Five weeks after her breast cancer operation, soap maker Charlene Mercieca has put up her post-surgery picture on Facebook. It makes for striking viewing. But what’s even more striking is the accompanying caption to the photo, in which Mercieca boldly goes against all the cliches associated with cancer survivors and refuses to give in to self-pity and pessimism.
While Mercieca originally took the photo purely for her own personal use and to monitor the stages of her surgery, she later decided that opening it up to the public would serve to help girls and women going through a similar situation.
But she also had strong words for those who look at her condition — and that of many other women — with pity.
“For those who are currently thinking ‘miskina‘ , ‘jahasra‘ and other names, please stop. I don’t feel ‘butchered’, I’m not in pain and I don’t feel ashamed of my body. I’m currently enjoying the process of reconstructing my breast, choosing the size and shape I want and discovering new ways on how such operations are done. It’s amazing what is now being done in the cosmetic surgery industry and love learning more each day!”
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Mercieca described how the experience has taught her that illness is not an “unlucky lottery” draw, or a “war to be fought” but simply a way for your body to tell you that something is not right.
“If your body is not at ease, then we must be doing something that our body isn’t all that comfortable with,” Mercieca said, adding that she firmly believes that any number of factors could contribute to a negative turn in our health, from bad eating habits, to reliving stressful situations.
“All these create chemicals in our body — such as cortisol — which triggers the flight or fright mode. We are constantly living in a world where we are living in survival mode rather then enjoying the ride,” she added.
Mercieca also revealed that her therapy has opened her up to the world of neuroscience, through which she is finding great intellectual solace. With a particular attraction to the work of Dr Joe Dispenza, Mercieca found the field of great comfort and inspiration because it empowered her to believe that “the mind can have a powerful effect on the body”.
“I can now say that the old me has slowly died together with the cancer. I now feeling reborn into someone that I really like and look forward to explore the new Charly…”