What Remains:  Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and Getting on With Life
What Remains: Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and Getting on With Life
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During the Derecho weather event of June 2012, I was blind-sided with the diagnosis of breast cancer. I had faithfully gotten mammograms every year and had no family history on either side, so the shock of the diagnosis shook my equilibrium. As an attorney by profession and “Type-A” from birth, controlling what little I could control and at least managing what I couldn’t control got me through. I am also the mother of a child with special needs. My son has Asperger’s and, although brilliant, will always need me to help him navigate the neuro-typical world. I must outlive him. My choices reflect that acute realization. Although only diagnosed in the right breast, and with options other than mastectomy for that one, I elected for a double-mastectomy. When my hair started falling out from chemotherapy, I went to the salon and had it all shaved off. When I found out that my cancer was estrogen-fed, I had an elective oophorectomy. Removing my ovaries both helps prevent recurrence and ensures that I won’t get ovarian cancer. What remains after a life changing diagnosis and the grueling path to Survival is a new normal that can be both heart-breaking on a daily basis and sweeter than the life you had before. The book is my unvarnished truth of the ugly and the blessings of receiving such a diagnosis - often indelicate in detail and irreverently funny. Through this experience, I learned that you can actually feel prayer. It’s the most profound feeling I have ever experienced. Not miring the readers in gloom and doom, “What Remains” is intended to give hope, peace and courage to everyone, regardless of circumstances. The famous quote from Confucius rings true . . . “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” I’m living my second life and finding joy and laughter in the most generic experiences. Even almost three years later, I wake up every morning with “breast cancer” as my first thought. I give thanks to God for each day that no one is promised . . . then get up and get on with my life.
In 2012, despite annual mammograms and no family history, I was blind-sided by breast cancer. As the mother of a son with Asperger's, and with a "Type A" personality, I knew that undergoing the most aggressive of treatments was the only course of action for me. Along the bumpy road to Survivor, I kept a journal of what I was experiencing, from fears to triumphs, and hit a lot of "I wish I had known"s. Sometimes indelicate and often irreverent, I share it all in "What Remains."
I am the mother of a brilliant, special needs son, the step-mother of an adult son and the wife of the coolest husband. I am also an attorney barred in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia and former Senior Attorney for a Fortune 500 company. My practice was primarily oil and gas, supervising legal execution of multi-state, infrastructure projects annually. As a woman over-achiever in a male-dominated industry, there was nothing I couldn’t handle - until June 2012. That summer, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. “What Remains” is my taking control of and making sense of an uncontrollable, incomprehensible life event. Faith, family and friends get me through.

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