Breast Reconstruction After Cancer | Kathy’s Story

(soft music) It was devastating, I really
didn’t believe it at first. I never even told my husband
I was getting another mammogram, because I really thought it was going to be nothing. And I work at Penn, so I
knew everybody in radiology, so it was hard because I
know that they felt horrible that they had to actually tell me that there was a tumor there. And that’s the scary thing about cancer. You know, you’re feeling
fine, you’re just going on in your everyday and
then suddenly, you know, you’ve realized “Wow, this has been, how long has this been inside me?” I was scared, you know, I didn’t know what this meant for me. I had no idea that taking your breast off there would be so many
things down the road after getting your breasts removed that would affect you. So I got to know Penn, it was like my home away from home. Getting reconstruction
after surgery was never really a decision I had to think about. It was like, you know,
you’re taking my breasts off and they’re going to give me new ones. So I didn’t know a whole lot about it. Looking back now, I wish I
would’ve thought about it more but at the time I was like
“Whatever you need to do.” Really think about your decision because it is a hard decision. One of the big things you have
to decide when you’re done is if you’re going to have
nipple reconstruction or tattooing, so that was kind
of a fun thing to talk about because I had no idea; I
never had a tattoo in my life. I’m like, “What are you
talking about, a tattoo?” You know, when you go through
something like breast cancer, it’s such a personal thing because it’s who you are as a woman,
and that part of you is gone. You can’t feel anything anymore, most of the chemo puts you in menopause. Your body goes through all these changes, and so just to, you know,
even the simplest thing like the nipple
reconstruction, the tattooing, just makes you feel like,
“Okay, I’m a woman again. I look like everybody
else, I feel better.” And that’s what it’s all about, how you feel and look at
yourself in the mirror because it takes a long
time to feel that way again. I talk to a lot of people with cancer, a lot of other women that
I do try to tell them that, “Look, just focus on what
the treatment is today. And try not to worry
so much down the road, because you can’t really
control it and things change.” You really just got to
take it one step at a time. You’re going to have your chemo, get through that first week of chemo, get through that second week of chemo, and really just try to be where you are. Live where you are and
try to make an impact on other people as you’re doing it. I’m not at the place where I can say that this is never going to come back, I think a lot of people are
there that go through cancer, especially in our later stages. But I feel more confident in myself, I feel stronger, I feel
like, “Okay, I beat this, and I’m strong and if it comes
back I can do this again.” (inspirational music)

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