In March, 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
You’ve seen that moment in movies or heard stories from friends or family about someone who had just received the news. No matter what you’ve seen or heard, you are never prepared to hear those words.
The first thoughts you think are, ‘ I’m going to die.’ The nurse assures you this is not the case and gives you the folder with the contact info for breast surgeons, oncologists, therapists, nutritionists and plastic surgeons. It is overwhelming! You don’t know any of these doctors, because up to this point, you didn’t know anyone who had breast cancer. You ask around, get referrals, set up appointments, and the first order of business is to select a breast surgeon who will decipher the report and outline the next steps.
In all of this uncertainty, the one thing I was certain of was my plastic surgeon. I knew exactly who I was going to see – Dr. Cynthia Goodman. Two years ago, I met Dr. Goodman after I fell and tore up my lower lip and the ER doctor did not feel comfortable stitching it up. I didn’t know then how lucky I was that Dr. Goodman was on-call until later. Dr. Goodman is an artist and a perfectionist. She expertly stitched my lip so it’s undetectable to anyone who didn’t know about my accident.
After I underwent two lumpectomies and a bilateral mastectomy, the cancer was finally removed and it was time to focus on reconstruction. Throughout it all, Dr. Goodman was by my side – she helped me make informed choices, provided reassurance, and put me back together in more ways than one. Thanks to Dr. Goodman’s attention to detail and thoughtful care to both aesthetic and nerve retention, today my breasts are both beautiful and functional. More importantly, however, was that my health, my family, and my emotional well-being were restored by the end.
Dr. Goodman was one of the many blessings of my breast cancer journey. I am forever grateful to the person and professional that she is.
(Editor’s note: This is a personal account of a patient’s breast cancer journey. The author has chosen to remain anonymous)