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“I know how different my experience is. I am not facing potentially debilitating treatment(s) or the fear of death. Still, I am experiencing a physical transformation, a redefining of my feminine self, yet I do not feel as if I have the ‘right’ to be scared, saddened or supported. This is a “me” problem but raises the broad need for inclusivity, acceptance, and support in general and by health care professionals.
I no longer have breasts. Pathology confirmed for me that this was the right choice — no cancer yet. Findings indicated that it was ‘just a matter of time.’ While I truly have no regrets (even looking at my now truly, scarred flat chest) my vanity is still an issue. Time, a lavish, beautiful tattoo of lilacs or orchids and working toward washboard abs to match my washboard chest will help to heal this wound — and, most importantly, no more worries about breast cancer.
The guilt and doubt still linger, but then I see the relief in the faces of my family and understand that preventive mastectomy (and going flat) may not be right for everyone, but it was right for me.
I am not a survivor, not a previvor, but a preventer.”
Nanette Elster is a bioethicist.
She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “Not a cancer survivor, not a cancer previvor: Am I a cancer preventer?”
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Hosted by Kevin Pho, MD, The Podcast by KevinMD shares the stories of the many who intersect with our health care system but are rarely heard from.