TV producer Lucas (Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, 2004) explores why overcoming breast cancer is a happy event but not necessarily a happily-ever-after conclusion.
It’s been two decades since the author, preparing to undergo surgery at the age of 27 to remove a “very aggressive breast cancer,” decided that she was going to make a declaration of control over her situation. One application of bright-red lipstick later, she had rewritten the game plan for women everywhere. That one simple act shifted the thinking—why look good for something if there's no afterward? Lucas found herself in that afterward, occupying the space that comes after the end of the movie, the one with the happy ending and the perfect husband. Life, of course, continued to throw challenges her way, both as consequences of the aftermath of cancer and also as the residue of everyday obstacles. Lucas had a daughter, again defying the odds that the cancer stacked against her. It was a blessing, to be sure, but then she was told that it would be nearly impossible to repeat, due to the chemotherapy's effects on her reproductive system. Nearly impossible is not the same as impossible, however, and she soon had another child. Lucas’ success in overcoming breast cancer would give nearly anybody the sense that other, more "manageable" obstacles can also be overcome. Different challenges—learning to parent, resolving marital difficulties—have called on her to tap into other inner resources, and she continues to handle them with a positive attitude. “I want to not only stop and smell the roses, I want to take them apart and see the beauty in every petal,” she concludes. “Each moment I am living feels especially lipstick-worthy. I can only pedal forward.”
Women inspired by the way Lucas marshaled her resources for treatment will enjoy seeing how such strength can be channeled into other challenges.