Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day at Penn Medicine

– January 24th,
I get the call and I’m sitting on my couch
by myself and I’m talking to the doctor ’cause it was less than
24 hours later, so I didn’t think
anything of it. And I was like,
“Hey Doc! What’s up? It was a great time yesterday,” ’cause it was. I had a great time.
I really did. I learnt a lot. And he’s like,
“Kid, I have to stop you.” And I’m like,
“What is it?” And he’s like,
“You have cancer.” I didn’t really know
what to think or how to proceed. You hang up that phone
and you’re kind of like, “How, how do I tell my parents?” – I had to call
my husband first because,
he’s that calming factor. He’s always been
that calming factor. And when my husband came home, he immediately said,
“We’re gonna get through this.” – But it was hard for them. It was hard for my kids,
my husband, my mom. I had great support;
an army behind me. – After I processed
that I had cancer, I got into a place
where I said I would do whatever it takes
to beat this disease. Chemo, radiation,
surgeries; I had to do whatever
it took to make sure I reached my end result
which was being a survivor. – The first thing
you need to do is breathe, because it stops. You stop breathing
for a moment. Once you get past that point,
you have to be educated. – I didn’t know. I’m like, “What,
what do I wear on my top? What,
how do I pin my drains?” Like how do you? Like my mastectomy pillow
is still my best friend; still. And I didn’t even know
it existed. It came off of Etsy. – 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. – Reconstruction
wasn’t an easy process. And so, I, after having
my left breast removed, I opted to have
my right breast removed. This one tried to kill me
so let’s take this one off. – The idea of having
your areolas and nipples removed and basically
looking like an emoji, I didn’t think
I was going to be able to look in the mirror
at myself and I was honestly
scared of that, but, I made myself. – You know,
even in the simplest thing, like the nipple
reconstruction, the tattooing,
just makes you feel like, okay; like you know,
I’m a woman again. I have,
I look like everybody else. I feel better,
and that’s what it’s all about; I mean, how you feel when you look at yourself
in the mirror. – I couldn’t imagine
having the double mastectomy and the reconstruction
with any other hospital or with any other doctors because I was more
than a patient. They made me feel like family. And when someone is family, you take care of them, and you love them, and are there
to support them and I felt supported. – My future
pretty much looks like, I’m just going to do
whatever makes me happy. I don’t know if I’m
going to need radiation or chemo very soon. At some point I will,
but I don’t know when. So, I’m just kind of living
every day to the fullest and I’m just spending time
with the people that I love and that’s how I’m
choosing to continue. – Did I have to
go through a lot? Mhmm. Did I have to go through
a lot of physicalness? I did, but I enjoy my life
to the fullest. I love my life now. Not that I didn’t before,
but I appreciate it and understand it much better
after this long journey. – This experience
has changed me into a person
who appreciates life. It helps me appreciate
the little things that shape you
into the person that you will eventually become. You know it allows
my children to see me take people
from a point of sadness to a point of hope. [♪♪♪]

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