Breast cancer was never a part of the language of my life. It didn't lurk in the corners of my childhood or adolescence. And when stories cropped up in my adult years, they belonged to someone else; friends of friends or the mother, aunt or sister of so-and-so.
Every time someone we love hears the words, "You have cancer," we know their world and ours will never be the same. Gayle Brostowski, VFCC alum from the class of 1985, had no idea that 26 years later she would be diagnosed with third stage breast cancer.
The news that 24-year-old Allyn Rose, Miss District of Columbia in this year's Miss America competition, is planning to have both of her breasts removed in the near future is the latest case of what we might call "extreme breast cancer prevention."
Women with breast cancer should be helped to clearly understand what can and cannot be achieved by prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and the potentially significant risks of the procedure. Doctors, in turn, should accept that a reduction in fear is a worthwhile goal in cancer treatment.
In the last decades we have made much progress toward identifying and characterizing the pathways that lead to cancer development, but we also know that we have only just skimmed the surface of potential targeted therapy.
Ms. Cappello's story is compelling. She is one of a long history of breast cancer activists who have challenged the status quo. But in my opinion, using individual cases to dictate health policy is a dangerous precedent.
When I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago this month, I never asked "Why?" Instead, I wondered, "What am I supposed to learn from this experience?" As it turns out, one of the Silver Linings of my experience with breast cancer was learning some valuable life lessons.
Pain and sadness are important and valuable feelings that need to be processed during and after any rotten experience. The beauty of Silver Linings is that they don't take away the rain. Rather, they provide an umbrella.
I decided that I would undergo a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. I remember the frustration I felt at not having the mastectomy sooner. I wanted to fast track the whole thing. I wanted those things off yesterday.
What would you do if you heard the words "You've got cancer"? Get inspired by the infectious spirit of Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman as she shares her personal healing journey and how it revealed her life's purpose.
Will I ever take my health for granted again? No. That's why I get nervous every six months when I have my regular boobal check-ups and why I see my doctors whenever anything feels the slightest bit wonky.
My watch stopped working about a month ago, maybe longer. Has time stood still? Is it some strange sign that the watch I have worn for well over a decade has stopped working entirely, right at the same time my very life has been at risk?
Why am I telling this story for what feels like the 100th time? Because I think it is important to recognize that I am just like you. I am not a hero. I am not particularly brave. If I could get through what I got through, then anyone can get through anything.