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My New Boobs

After blogging for more than a year about cancer and the treatment required to get it out of my life, there wasn’t much more I felt I could contribute to the lexicon of personal insights regarding this most dreaded topic.

But when it came to my particular diagnosis and treatment, there was one more journey I thought would be worth relating to those who are in a similar place, or want to help a woman who is: the surgical experiences surrounding breast cancer.

While chemotherapy was by far the most grueling experience of my entire cancer journey, lumpectomies, mastectomies and my search for a perfect reconstruction were in their own way equally difficult challenges to overcome.

Before beginning this project, the time before and after chemo was a sort of blurry frame around which six months of chemotherapy took center stage.  But when I sat down and began to remember how I came to be a cancer warrior, I found that the clarity of my memory was still quite precise, and that the days and weeks surrounding my surgeries were worth sharing.

So once again I sat down at my keyboard and began to write… and what I came up with is a series of 10 blogs, which I’ve collective entitled My New Boobs.

As with all my outreach to the chemo sisterhood, I have tried my best to be both honest and humorous, to not shy away from less than flattering memories or shortchange the difficulties any woman in my place must endure. I have related the good, the bad, the funny, the scary, the ridiculous, the terrible and the triumphant impact replacing my breasts has had on my life.

And while I am now recovered and healthy and living a life that in many ways is even better than it was before I found my first lump, the reality of those days will always remain with me, reminding me that life can change in an instant, but that with strength and courage we can always make the most of each moment we have.

Debbie and I hope you enjoy this story, and encourage you to comment on it if you wish, as there are no stronger voices than those of we who have been over the cancer mountain, and can now offer our strength and experience to those who are now struggling along the path to wellness.

3 Comments to My New Boobs

  1. Carol Vineberg's Gravatar Carol Vineberg
    July 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I can remember vividly the exact moment I received a call from my breast surgeon…11/01/05….5pm. He told me , “You have Cancer.”I was sitting in my car about to drive to one of my teaching colleagues to go to the theatre. Needless to say,
    In a split second my life changed. In the short conversation the doctor told me I had DCIS. If I was to get any type of breast cancer this was the one to get. The “only” word I heard him say was CANCER!

    I immediately drove home . the hour rise with traffic seemed endless as the tears ran down my eyes.I immediately called my mom who lives in Florida and she tried to console me. Next, I went on the Internet to learn about DCIS. That’s the first step one does when trying to empower yourself when you receive this diagnosis. I learned that there are s many types of breast cancer and treatments in the coming weeks.

    another thing I learned was that this first doctor was going to do the wrong treatment for the cancer I had. I didn’t have a good feeling about him for the longest time but I had made a commitment to have a Lumpectomy with him. It wasn’t until I went for a second opinion that I was blessed to met my doctor who is Chief of Breast Surgery at LIJ. Dr. Karen Kostroff was so thorough and kind. She also worked with Dr. Alex Keller, who was a plastic surgeon. I saw her on a Monday and Dr. Keller on a Thursday. they cleared a day for my 10 hour surgery the following week and the rest was history.

    The surgery I had was DCIS…a mastectomy/reconstruction on my right breast where the fat from my stomach was used to fill the breast. Incredible surgery. Lots of scars that no one sees but me.

    Once I found out I was OK the pain was minimal. I was able to handle everything that came my way because I was thrilled to be OK. Four months later I had the nipple surgery.

    Reconstructive surgery is a process…..different for every woman yet, it is similar because your life changes.

    in the 6 and 1/2 years since my surgery I have volunteered at the ACS Reach to Recovery Group in Queens. It is so rewarding to speak with women they ask me to speak with who are planning to go through similar surgery, By answering their questions and listening to them as they share their concerns and fears I validate what they are going through as the wife of one of my teacher colleagues did for me prior to my surgery. And, I then share my story with them,

    Women who have had breast cancer can relate to other women in a way other women can’t.

    Two years ago I was fortunate to meet Debbie at Citified for the ACS breakfast in August, We sat next to each other and she touched my life. I have since read your book and shared it with other survivors, What a beautiful and helpful book!!

    Would I love to have both my original breasts? Absolutely! I needed to have a mastectomy. However, I am thrilled to be in this awesome group of breast cancer survivors. I am grateful to have had two wonderful surgeons.

    As heroines and survivors in this breast cancer saga we continue to offer strength and support to one another.

    Carol Vineberg

  2. debbie's Gravatar debbie
    July 26, 2012 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Carol, you are an inspiration to many women, including me. Glad to have met you! And thank you for sharing your story…


  3. Marybeth's Gravatar Marybeth
    August 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this, Carol – it means so much to people to learn how others faced and coped with disease, and most importantly, to come to understand that they’re not alone as they go through this terrible journey – congratulations on making it over the cancer mountain – you are an inspiration!

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