What Remains: Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and Getting on With Life

During the Derecho weather event of June 2012, I was blind-sided with the diagnosis of breast cancer. I had faithfully gotten mammograms every year and had no family history on either side, so the shock of the diagnosis shook my equilibrium. As an attorney by profession and “Type-A” from birth, controlling what little I could control and at least managing what I couldn’t control got me through. I am also the mother of a child with special needs. My son has Asperger’s and, although brilliant, will always need me to help him navigate the neuro-typical world. I must outlive him. My choices reflect that acute realization. Although only diagnosed in the right breast, and with options other than mastectomy for that one, I elected for a double-mastectomy. When my hair started falling out from chemotherapy, I went to the salon and had it all shaved off. When I found out that my cancer was estrogen-fed, I had an elective oophorectomy. Removing my ovaries both helps prevent recurrence and ensures that I won’t get ovarian cancer. What remains after a life changing diagnosis and the grueling path to Survival is a new normal that can be both heart-breaking on a daily basis and sweeter than the life you had before. The book is my unvarnished truth of the ugly and the blessings of receiving such a diagnosis - often indelicate in detail and irreverently funny. Through this experience, I learned that you can actually feel prayer. It’s the most profound feeling I have ever experienced. Not miring the readers in gloom and doom, “What Remains” is intended to give hope, peace and courage to everyone, regardless of circumstances. The famous quote from Confucius rings true . . . “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” I’m living my second life and finding joy and laughter in the most generic experiences. Even almost three years later, I wake up every morning with “breast cancer” as my first thought. I give thanks to God for each day that no one is promised . . . then get up and get on with my life.

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