"I’ve had breast cancer twice — in 2003, early-stage invasive cancer in my right breast, requiring a lumpectomy and radiation; then, in 2006, DCIS in my left breast. The DCIS proved to be very extensive, so I was told I would need a mastectomy. I decided to have both breasts removed since I wanted to do everything possible to avoid a recurrence on either side. I chose not to have reconstruction. I was inspired by my mother-in-law, who lived a full life for over 50 years after having a mastectomy without reconstruction at age 31.
"While going through treatment, I spent many hours on the internet, trying to learn as much as I could. Understanding my illness gave me a sense of control at a time when I felt overwhelmed. My web searches led me to Breastcancer.org, where I found great information and where I was thrilled to discover the Discussion Boards. The Boards allowed me to compare notes with women who were going through the same physical and emotional challenges that confronted me. I learned so much from them!
"In 2007, I decided to start BreastFree.org, a nonprofit website for women considering not having reconstruction, which offers advice and information about living breast-free. I still visit the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards regularly and try to help whenever I can. It sounds like a cliché, but having breast cancer has truly changed my life for the better by giving me the chance to share what I’ve learned with other women and hopefully make their breast cancer journey a little easier."
-- Erica (Barbara), age 64, FL, USA
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