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Wildfire Magazine – For Young Survivors and Fighters of Breast Cancer

by KimHarms 0 Comments
Wildfire Magazine – For Young Survivors and Fighters of Breast Cancer

I’d like to introduce you to Wildfire Magazine. I came across it while doing some breast cancer research online, and it’s a fantastic resource. Real stories written by real women who’ve had a wide variety of experiences with breast cancer, from the early stages all the way to Stage 4.

This month’s theme is Infertility, and the magazine is filled with beautifully written, raw stories.

Next month, the theme is Body Image, and I am honored that I will have an article in that issue.

Wildfire is a wonderful community of women whose lives have been changed by cancer. And it’s led by creator and editor in chief, April Johnson Stearns, who made my day last week when she sent me a little gift in the mail – a copy of this month’s issue, some coffee and some chocolate (pictured above.)

I’ve added a link to Wildfire in the sidebar on my homepage.  Go ahead and take a peek.




Trusting God in the “I Don’t Want To’s”

Trusting God in the “I Don’t Want To’s”

When I discovered a lump in my breast on January 9, 2016 (there are some dates you don’t forget), I opened a new Word document on my computer and started typing. The title of the doc? When You Think You Might Have Cancer. By the time I stopped adding to that document months later, it was 55 typed pages long. Add to that all the journaling I did with my handy ink pen and I have close to 80 pages of my cancer experience on paper. Yowzers.

This week will mark the 2nd anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy, and I’ve been reading and remembering and at times riding the wave of emotion. The following is an excerpt from my journal days before surgery. Reading it was a reminder to me that God often makes us walk through “I don’t want to” moments. The big “I don’t want to” was obviously the cancer, but along with that big thing were a million little things I didn’t want to do.


Your Hurting Friend Might Need You to Clean Her Toilets But She Probably Won’t Ask

Your Hurting Friend Might Need You to Clean Her Toilets But She Probably Won’t Ask

I remember the day Carter started kindergarten. The eldest and most timid of my children, I can say with certainty his first day of school would still rank somewhere in the top 5 if he kept a Terrible-Horrible-No Good-Very Bad-Day list.

That was a long day followed by a long difficult year of adjustment. But he got through it.

I remember the day Owen realized he didn’t have super powers. It was a blow to his self-confidence when his dad broke the news that it was a remote control turning on the ceiling fan; not the super-spin motion created by Owen’s alter ego, Flash.

You can imagine his disappointment. But he got over it.

I remember the day Lewis’ buddy, William, moved away. My little guy was quite dejected. But he bounced back.

Maybe your life is kind of like that. No major life altering challenges, just little potholes in the road here and there. Aside from the occasional broken bone, bombed test or fender bender you’ve made your way through life relatively unscathed.

But what happens when someone you love receives the diagnosis they didn’t want? Or loses the job they loved? Or falls into periods of depression that leave them not wanting to get out of bed?

If you are like me, when those heartbreaking things happen to your friends, you don’t always know what to do.

When I don’t know what to do, I’m tempted do nothing.

When my friend’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer years ago, I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t do or say enough.

In hindsight I would have visited the hospital more than one measly time. I would have sent her more cards of encouragement. I would have bought her Tirimisu and told her how often my thoughts and prayers turned her way. I would have. . .

I know my friend holds nothing against me. In fact we are much closer now than we were before her family started their cancer journey. And I’m guessing thoughts of how much or how little I did to support her didn’t cross her mind as she was swimming deep in an ocean she didn’t want to be swimming in.

But regardless of her thoughts and feelings, I know my regrets.

What if it was my child? What if it was me?

Two years ago it became me.


5 Breast Reconstruction Gifts

5 Breast Reconstruction Gifts

Every woman is different and there are a lot of varieties of reconstruction surgery, but the following are 5 things I greatly appreciated while walking down the road to reconstruction. If you have a friend who’s going through this bizarre and challenging life circumstance, she might appreciate something from this 5 Breast Reconstruction Gifts list.

A Sherpa Blanket

Sherpa blankets are super-soft, ultra warm blankets that you can just sorta hibernate in. My friend Marti gave me one, and I called it my magic blanket. I slept with it for months. Even when I finally went back to my bed after a couple months in the recliner, I slept on top of my bed covers and under my magic blanket. My children have since claimed this blanket for their own. 🙂


Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

Best gift ever really. Bake her casseroles or give her gift cards to restaurants. Anything that takes away the stress of “what am I going to feed my family tonight?” Our deep freeze was so packed with meals that I didn’t have to cook for more than two months. Some of the meals we received tested the range of our bland Harms family taste buds, but all that food was an amazing gift.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries Delivered to Her Door

Some of my friends had chocolate covered strawberries delivered to my house. Why is this such a good gift you ask? Because it’s extravagant. It’s one of those things a girl like me would never do for herself. But it made me feel loved and valued. And eating chocolate covered strawberries for breakfast was pretty darn sweet.


Body Image After Breast Reconstruction (Walk With Me Podcast)

Photo by Kim Harms

Sometimes it’s hard to look in the mirror.

I had the opportunity to talk with Tori Haverkamp several weeks ago about body image and learning to live with my altered form after a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

There are so many pieces that come into play when walking through breast reconstruction process, but body image is not something that I thought I would struggle with at all.  As it turns out though, losing a piece of me changed the way I looked at myself.  And it kind of broke my heart.

But God is good, and he continues to stay close to me and bring healing to each and every piece of me that needs his touch. If you want to hear my story follow the link below to the Cornerstone Church Walk with Me Podcast .

Body Image after Breast Reconstruction Podcast


5 Most Meaningful Books Read in 2017

5 Most Meaningful Books Read in 2017


Warrior In Pink

Warrior in Pink, Author: Vivian Mabuni

Vivian’s cancer story is different than mine, but the beginning in much the same. As I read the first couple chapters of her book, I was right back in those first days, remembering the fear, the sadness, the helplessness, the desperate prayers. . . Her words, though hard to read, played a role in my emotional healing. That, along with her willingness to be open and raw in the telling of her cancer story and the God who brought her through it, put this book on my favorites list this year.

Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, Author: Michael Kelley

This this book played a role in giving me permission to grieve the loss of my breasts. Pretty weird, considering it’s a book about a father walking through Luekemia with his little boy, but this statement stopped me in my tracks.

“We often think about the grieving process exclusively in terms of people. You lose someone close to you, and you lament that loss in personal and profound ways. But the same process happens, I believe, to other areas of life, too…in the end, grieving is about loss and finding your way through life without the thing that’s not there anymore.” Michael Kelley, Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal

This book helped me grieve, but is about so much more than grieving. It’s about living with the things God allows in our lives. It’s about watching for the bigger things God’s doing when we think He might be letting us down. It’s about learning to live through the pain, when what you want most is for the pain to just go away. It’s about the battle to trust God, when what you want to go to your room, shut the door and never come out again.


Reassurance of Normal

Reassurance of Normal


Corey is my best friend, but I had the opportunity to spend a morning with my girl BFF last week. She’s the one who shares my disinterest in girly things like shopping and jewelry. The one who has navigated boy mom world with me from day one.  The one I call when my kiddos do something amazing like backflip off a picnic table. And the one I call when this job of “momming” is knocking the wind out of me. She’s a gift.

I’ve even shown her my bare chest. I know that sounds so weird and wrong, but stick with me here. I live in post-breast cancer world, so my normal is no longer a normal person’s normal.  When you’ve had your breasts removed and rebuilt, and you’ve had a stranger tattoo on them to provide a sense of normalcy and scar coverage, you just want your best friend to see them and say “You don’t look weird.”  And then you laugh together over the fact that you seriously just flashed her. And then you pause in the somber reality that it was a malignant tumor that brought you to this strange place.

I’ve found that since this whole cancer thing happened, there are moments I just need reassurance that I am normal. I need assurance from Corey that I’m beautiful. And I need assurance from my friends that I’m not a weirdo.  Don’t we all need a cheerleading squad sometimes?

Enveloped in support of those who love me, I need to plant myself firmly in God’s word which tells me I am created in His image. And I need to trust that even with a slightly altered body, I am deeply cherished by the God of the universe. Click To Tweet. And I need to believe that He works good through the hard.

Maybe your life has been altered in some way by cancer, and maybe not. Regardless, we all walk through hard things. Don’t be afraid to lean on those who love you.(This likely will not require you to flash your BFF.)  And more importantly, don’t discount the God who brings beauty from ashes. (The One who can take your broken, unnormal self and make you whole.)


and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3






19 Ways to Love Your Wife

19 Ways to Love Your Wife

I’ve been on the receiving end of sweet selfless love since my wedding day 19 years ago. Corey has got loving me figured out. Want to make your wife feel loved? Read on. 19 ways to love your wife.

Date Her.

This is much easier for us now that our kids are older, but alone time is just as important when you’ve got toddlers running around. So put on a button down shirt, shave that scruffy face and take your woman out for steak. Or grab Hy-Vee Chinese and play board games in your living room. Or pack a lunch and go to a park. The options are endless, but they won’t happen if you don’t make them happen.

Love Her With Actions.

There will be times when more than anything in the world, you will want to carry her burdens. But sometimes you can’t. What you can do is hold her up while she carries them. Shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Corey showed up at home in the middle of the day simply to rub my feet and hold me while I cried. This is love in action.

Love Her With Words.

Tell her she’s beautiful. Sometimes we ladies need to hear it a million times to believe it. After my bilateral mastectomy, when the mirror spoke lies to me, Corey gently covered those lies with truth-filled words. Over and over and over he told me I was beautiful.

Give Her Flowers.

This is a no-brainer. I’m sure there’s a woman somewhere who doesn’t like flowers, but I haven’t met her.

Watch a Chick Flick.

We don’t watch a lot of chick flicks over here in boy world. But it’s a beautiful thing when Corey spends two hours with me eating popcorn and watching Jane and Mr. Rochester fall in love.

Teach Your Children to Respect Her.

We’ve witnessed a lot of kids sassing their mamas at social gatherings and events over the years, and Corey always seizes the moment to train my boys. The car ride home usually goes something like this. “You remember how (insert name here) was sassing back to his mom? If I ever hear your disrespecting your mom, you are going to regret it for a long long time. I helped bring you into this world, and I’ll take you out.” Your wife’s life will be easier if her children respect their mama, and you can play a significant role in making sure they do.

Eat Her Mediocre Cooking.

Unless she makes Tilapia that tastes like gelatinous lake water. Then tell you love her, and order a pizza.

Push Her Out of Her Comfort Zone.

If Corey hadn’t pushed me out of my comfort zone, I never would have hiked 11 miles to camp on a secluded beach and shower in a waterfall. I wouldn’t have spearheaded family backpacking trips to Northern Minnesota and Colorado. And I wouldn’t know the physical challenges that I am capable of enjoying and conquering.

Photo by Kim Harms

Our tiny tent at the base of a waterfall at the end of the Kalalau Trail.

Sacrifice Your Sleep for Her.

I had jaw surgery when we were dating and was left with a face shaped like a balloon and a mouth tightly banded shut. I sounded like Darth Vader when I breathed, and I honestly thought I might die if I fell asleep. So he stayed up with me all night in my folks living room. In my mind he was keeping me alive, but probably in his mind he was tolerating my insanity. Regardless, that’s the night I realized I was in love.


A “Thank You for Reading My Words” Book Giveaway

A “Thank You for Reading My Words” Book Giveaway

Dee Dee Parker wrote a sweet children’s book when her daughter, Brooke, was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. All of the proceeds from the sale of Josie Jo’s Got to Know benefit Breast Cancer Research, Breast Cancer Awareness and Cancer Patient Expenses. Josie Jo’s Got to Know is available on Amazon, but Dee Dee kindly gave me a signed copy to give away here at Life Reconstructed. To thank you for reading my words, one of you will win this sweet, fun children’s book with fantastic illustrations.

Thank you for spending some of the precious minutes in your day reading what I have to say about breast reconstruction, boy momming and believing Jesus through it all.

Thank you for sending me messages of encouragement. Though I don’t write for praise, I’m not gonna tell you I dislike it when I learn that my words were meaningful to someone else.

Thank you for sharing this website with other people. Part of being a writer is promoting your own work (my least favorite part of my job:) )  So I greatly appreciate it when you share my posts or comment on my posts or encourage someone else to click my Facebook like box.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.Photo by Kim Harms

The following are three ways to get your name in the drawing.

1.     Leave a comment at the end of this post naming something you are thankful for.

2.     Like my page on Facebook if you haven’t done so already.

3.     Subscribe to receive my posts through your email.

The winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, November 22.


Heather Lau – Reconstruction after Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Heather Lau – Reconstruction after Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Photo Courtesy of Heather Lau

Dan and Heather Lau

This is the last in my Breast Reconstruction Thoughts series (at least for now). I continue to be thankful for the willingness of these women to share their stories. Heather Lau and I both graduated from West Hancock High School in Britt, Iowa. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 35 years old and made it through treatment and reconstruction while raising young kids. Here are some of her thoughts.

Name: Heather Lau

Family: Husband – Dan, Son – Camden (15), Daughter – Kenadie (14), Daughter – Macie (9)

Occupation: Office assistant at an insurance agency

Hobbies/Interests: Going to all my kids’ activities and spending time as a family.

Diagnosis: Triple Negative Breast Cancer – Stage 1

Age at Time of Diagnosis: 35

Type of Reconstruction: Implant Reconstruction

What was your initial response to your cancer diagnosis?

Complete shock! I didn’t think people my age got breast cancer. I was only 35 and my kids were young (4, 9 and 10.) I just kept thinking this happens to other people, but not me.

How much time passed from your mastectomy through the completion of reconstruction?

I had the mastectomy, then chemo, and then reconstruction. So from mastectomy to reconstruction completion it was about 11 months

What was something you found surprising or unexpected about the reconstruction process?

I was very surprised at how much better I felt about myself after I was done with the whole process. I kept telling everyone that I didn’t really care about having breasts again, but it turns out I did! It just made me feel normal again.

What was the hardest part of he process?

It was definitely physically hard for me. I got expanders put in two months after chemo, and my body was still recovering from that. I thought the drainage tubes were awful. I had to have them in for almost three weeks, and they were painful and made sleeping impossible. I would say the first month after getting the expanders in was the hardest for me

(Wonder what the expansion process is like? Breast Reconstruction – Expansion)

What is something you learned about yourself through your mastectomy/reconstruction experience?

There’s a saying, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.” I always thought of myself as weak, but going through this I found out that I am strong.

Do you have a piece of advice for women who are just beginning this journey?

I’ve talked to a lot of people who have had reconstruction, and everyone had different experiences. It really helped me to talk to other women who went through it. Do what you are comfortable with. Stay positive, and lean on your friends for support.

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