They are the bane of every gardener and landscaper… weeds. Dandelions, crab grass, lawn lettuce, you name it.

I have one such persistent weed in the small garden off my kitchen. Before we ever bought our home, this plant somehow took deep root and grew a woody stem. No matter how much I dig at it, hack at the stem with a shovel, or prune off its branches that pesky plant pops up again each spring, marring my view of my beautiful blooming azaleas and hostas. It even sprouts a few flowers.

Like many weeds, this plant is the ultimate survivor.

Ever since my mastectomy, I have felt so uglyTo me, that stubborn weed is ugly and unwanted. But Someone must love it to make it return year after year, no matter how much abuse it has taken from me.

This winter, as I was planning out my garden for the spring, I finally realized that perhaps this weed is tenaciously thriving in my yard because G‑d wants me to learn something from it.

Then the answer hit me so hard, I lost my breath.


Survivorship is beautiful. Even scarred, ugly and unwanted plants can make such beautiful flowers and serve G‑d's purpose of beautifying the world.

And so it is with me.

Ever since my mastectomy nearly two years ago, I have felt so ugly. Even following reconstructive surgery with a high quality implant I still feel… Disfigured. Unattractive. Scarred, like Frankenstein's monster. Only "normal" and "whole" will ever be beautiful to me.

These are feelings I rarely give voice to. They are just a painful wrenching deep in my psyche.

Of course, my gratitude to G‑d is tremendous and overwhelming. I have survived cancer two times now. The mastectomy cured me, thank G‑d, and I will be scanned and examined twice a year for the rest of my life to maintain good health.

Nevertheless, I struggle with feeling unattractive, which I know in the back of my mind is a weakness in my emunah (faith). But as a woman, it's hard to have total peace in my heart when I feel so ugly and disfigured under my clothes.

But here in my own yard, before I ever needed it, G‑d provided me with a model for beauty and survivorship. When my mind was open to looking for answers, there it was staring me in the face.

Despite the scars I've given that weed over the years, it still bloomsYear after year, I have tried to surgically remove that weed from my garden. I have hacked at it and cut off its branches and stem. It is a survivor. Its roots are deep. It sends up a new stem and new shoots and little purple flowers in every possible direction. It's doing G‑d's mission in this world – bringing greenery to its surroundings… and despite the scars I've given that weed over the years, it still blooms.

I can too. My surgical area is what it is. It will never be whole or unscarred. It's a sign of my survivorship, and that in itself is beautiful. I am here because the Ultimate Gardener wanted me to survive, to stay in my home where He placed me, with my roots deeply entrenched, and fulfill my mission in this world.

That is how I will flower… and be really beautiful.