My story would be one of being so so thankful that I was diagnosed at practically stage zero and not having to go through anything other than the mastectomy and reconstruction. The way I have been affected is nothing compared to what my friends have been through who have had to deal with chemo, radiation, hair loss, medication, etc. and are still dealing with issues related to their cancer.
I am blessed that my health is as good as it is, that I had Dr. Barry Douglas an “artist” as a plastic surgeon who gave me excellent replacement breasts that are practically perfect. So, what if I had to have the implants replaced last year because of a recall. They still look great! I can wear backless or low-cut clothing without the concerns of a bra. At 67 years old my natural breasts would have needed plenty of assistance to look halfway as good as my replacements, but this is all cosmetic. Again, I was so fortunate. If I was to offer any advice to women, it would be to make sure to be regularly checked and to have a sonogram as well as a mammogram. My cancer wasn’t visible on a mammography but was discovered because of a sonogram.
My other advice is to seek counseling that is readily available to women dealing with breast cancer. There is so much adjustment for any woman having reconstruction but especially for women who must go through chemo and radiation and the extensive fear that goes along with that. Avail yourself of the professional assistance available. The other great service I found out later that I should have was physical therapy that is specially focused on women who have had reconstruction. Back, shoulder, and neck strain affecting posture happens so quickly and can be corrected if treated. Diana Tjaden of Full Circle Physical Therapy was so enlightening and helpful.
I have 4 beautiful daughters and both their father, and I were tested for the BRCA gene. We were both negative and again I am thankful. They still must be proactive and diligent, especially living on Long Island. They were all so wonderfully supportive, but we had all been through much worse when my youngest daughter had to go through treatment for Lymphoma when she was 18. That was a journey that should be admired and again I am blessed because she is 31 years old now and doing fabulously. My battle was only a skirmish. I thank God every day for that.