It’s OK to Want to Feel Like Your Old Self

06-04-2015 9:50 AM

The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF) is humbled by the grace and candor of those breast cancer patients who share their stories of survival with The PSF. Today we invite you to meet Marla, a breast cancer survivor who will be celebrating nine years of being cancer-free this summer.

My whole life, I’ve always been fit. I work out every day, I swim, do my best to eat healthy. With no history of breast cancer in my family, I hadn’t put much thought into screenings beyond my annual mammogram. So a breast cancer diagnosis at 47 wasn’t exactly something I expected.

I had a normal mammogram the fall before I was diagnosed. It wasn’t until the following summer at my annual checkup that my doctor discovered two lumps in my breast, which she later confirmed as Stage II breast cancer.

I was in a fog. I frantically researched the diagnosis and all the treatment options, feeling overwhelmed, bewildered, and frankly terrified because I just didn’t know what it all meant. It was a different world eight and a half years ago when I was diagnosed. That was almost a decade before Angelina Jolie publicly shared her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy.

Now, everybody knows somebody affected by breast cancer. At the time, I really didn’t know anybody who had been through it. Not a single person. I felt scared, and alone. I scheduled a flurry of consultations and appointments.

I endured a lumpectomy and six grueling rounds of chemotherapy. It wasn’t until I saw my chest following my initial lumpectomy that I thought about breast reconstruction.

On the way home from the hospital, I thought to myself, “Oh boy, one’s pointing north and one’s pointing south! I need to fix that.”

Reconstruction was important for me, a key step toward resuming my normal life and appearance. I was blessed to have an excellent board certified plastic surgeon. Competent, calm, and confident about my outcomes, she was by my side every step of the way, diagnosis through reconstruction.

Initially I had a simple breast lift. Later, I chose implants to fully restore my chest. Thankfully, it was a total success.

I’m writing this post because I want breast cancer survivors to know it’s OK to ask about breast reconstruction before a lumpectomy or mastectomy. It is OK to want to feel and look like your old self. In fact, it is spectacular.

Hear more patient stories and find a board certified plastic surgeon near you by visiting The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF). Don’t forget to stop by and visit The PSF at The Mary Kay Foundation℠ booth during Seminar’s Expo in Dallas this July to learn more about your reconstruction options.

The PSF thanks breast cancer survivor Marla Hope for allowing us to share her journey with The Mary Kay Foundation℠. Following her breast cancer treatment, Marla elected to have reconstructive surgery for symmetry and later, a breast lift with implants. She has since become a passionate breast cancer awareness advocate. “I want women to know they aren’t alone,” she said.“There is a lot of support out there. Make it your business to schedule your annual mammogram—screenings save lives!”