When it comes to breast cancer detection, you've got mammograms, biopsies and, in the case of Shondia McFadden-Sabari, intuition. "I had no symptoms. I didn't find a lump. My doctors didn't find a lump. It was a simple thought that popped in my head," McFadden-Sabari told My Fox Atlanta earlier this year, referring to the premonition she had to get tested for breast cancer.
Upon getting a mammorgram, the 36-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with two different types of breast cancer in one breast -- Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (also known as DCIS) and Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (or LCIS) -- and two different stages in the other.
And with no family history to speak of and doctors deeming chemotherapy and radiation unnecessary, what McFadden-Sabari did next was even more surprising. "They could have saved my right breast because it was only one area, but not my left because I had cancer in two places. After researching and reading everything I could get my hands on, I decided not to take any chances and told them to take them both,” she says.
Preventative measures in place, McFadden-Sabari has embarked on a mission to help other breast cancer survivors make peace with themselves as women after having their breasts removed. Her message: get an early screening (even before you're 40) and if you've had a mastectomy, be bold and breastless.
"I'm a very confident person and for me it was a very personal decision as far as not doing the reconstructive surgery because I'm comfortable with me and who I am. My husband didn't have a problem with it, my children didn't have a problem with it. It didn't have anything to do with one particular thing. It was just that I know that there are risks with reconstructive surgery and I just didn't want to have to deal with the 'what if?'
Personal decision aside, McFadden-Sabari says it's gratitude that motivates her to share her story with other women and encourage them to live fearlessly and not be ashamed of their bodies after a mastectomy.