Voices of FORCE

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Mary D, Chesterton, Indiana

Quick Info About Me


Age: 57

After dealing with breast cancer for over 20 years I decided to turn my battle scars into art.

I'm more than my risk… some fun facts about myself:

Favorite book / authors:
I read abut 4 books a week

Favorite TV / Movies:
I love medical shows

Other favorites?
My husband is one of my favorite people in the world. He is my hero for standing by me, supporting me, going to every Force meeting with me and showing me total unconditional love.

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My journey

I first had BC over 20 years ago when I was 36. I endured years of complications from lumpectomy, radiation and auxiliary node dissection. I even had surgery 10 years ago to remove adhesions. After I went through menopause my Dr thought I should be tested for BRCA because if I was positive she wanted to remove my ovaries immediately and also I had 2 daughters. I was positive and did have my ovaries removed but wanted to wait to have my mastectomies until both daughters were tested. One daughter was positive and elected to have a double mastectomy and full hysterectomy and I wanted to be there for her through her surgeries before completing my own. When I did have the surgery it did not go well. I had emergency surgery for massive infections and then my skin started dying on the side that had been radiated. After 7 surgeries I was finally healed, however my husband did not want me to have another surgery to create nipples and I agreed. So to cover all the scars and hide the fact that I did not have nipples I decided to cover all my breasts and the tram scar with tattoos. I love the result and would highly recommend it for any person who feels that it would be an alternative for them. I feel beautiful now!

The hardest part of my journey

The hardest part of my journey was watching my daughter go through so much. She had all her surgery at once (9 hours).

If I could do it over again

After 3 surgeries I changed Doctors. I wish I had FORCE in my life before surgery for both myself and my daughter.

My participation with FORCE

Force has been so wonderful! It is because of Force that I was able to change Doctors and the Doctor who completed the last surgeries was wonderful.

Other thoughts

I was advised by the Doctor who did the initial surgeries that I should have a latissimus dorsi surgery. For the past 20 years I have tried to avoid lymphedema. I called the Force helpline and on their recommendation had a reconstruction book overnighted to me. It was apparent that I could get lymphedema from having that surgery on the side when my lymph nodes were removed and I was radiated. The Doctor that I had did not agree. I changed Doctors because of this.

FORCE:Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered