Beginning January 1, 2013

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Tomorrow (May 13th) is a very special day for me. It’s my birthday! But May 14th is perhaps an even more important day in my life. I refer to it as my Re-birth Day. On May 14th, 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’ve been aware that I was at high risk for breast cancer my entire adult life. My grandmother had breast cancer. My mother had breast cancer. I had a benign tumor when I was 22 and started having routine mammograms early on. So when the doctor confirmed what I already suspected after having several biopsies in as many years and a scare with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) two years earlier, I wasn’t completely surprised by the diagnosis.

What did surprise me were my options. I went in expecting a lumpectomy like I had with the DCIS. However, although the cancer was Stage 0, it was in more than one area and scattered. A lumpectomy would require losing one-third of my breast, radiation, and chemotherapy. My other option was a mastectomy. I would lose my breast, but no chemo and no radiation.

My decision shocked everyone including my husband, my doctor, and maybe even me. I didn’t choose a mastectomy. I chose a bi-lateral mastectomy. Both breasts. People told me how brave I was to take such a radical approach. Let me assure you in no uncertain terms that I was not brave; I was terrified. Terrified that in three months or three years I would be hearing the same terrifying diagnosis on my other breast.

I chose an option many women aren’t aware of—a simple, skin-saving mastectomy with only a 4% chance of recurrence. The surgeon and the plastic surgeon were both in the surgery. The surgeon removed my breasts, leaving as much skin as possible (which wasn’t much). When he finished, the plastic surgeon inserted saline implants, each containing a port. For two months, I went to the plastic surgeon’s office every two weeks and he would inject more saline solution through the port. The skin stretched a little at a time until he had the mounds the correct size. I was fortunate; he was able to stretch me to my previous size. Then, we waited six months for everything to settle.

After the wait, I had a second surgery. The plastic surgeon removed the saline implants and replaced them with silicone ones followed by another wait (three months). The third surgery was optional—nipples. But I’d gone this far and was thrilled with the results, so why stop now? I took the option and loved the completed feeling I got from it. No more blank faces staring back at me in the mirror *G*.

When the post-op report came back after the first surgery, I learned that my “good” breast did indeed have cancer; it was just too small to show up yet on a mammogram. I made the right choice and have never regretted it.

I realize how blessed I am to have caught the cancer early, and I acknowledge the others who haven’t had the choices I had and have bravely faced whatever they had to endure. But there are a lot of women like me out there who could have a choice. Please help me get the message to them that EARLY DETECTION IS THE KEY. I pray that every one of them can celebrate a Re-birth Day like me!

Maybe growing up in the South didn’t have any impact on Pamela Hearon’s writing, but she has her own theories and believes otherwise. A lifetime of sultry, Southern nights surely infused her blood with a special heat—the kind that transforms simple love stories into a tales of romance and desire. And her most powerful writing happens at some of the oddest times—in the garden … in a dream … even in the shower. Unexpected moments of inspiration bring dialogues together, make characters come to life, and fill gaping plot holes.

Her writing process wouldn’t work for everybody. It is, after all, a bit out of the ordinary. But Pamela embraces it because nobody wants a book that’s ordinary.


RO said...

CONGRATS! I'm glad you've taken a moment to share your experience, and to remind women on the importance of breast cancer and early detection. Doing this literally saves lives! I'm sooo very happy for you, and thanks again for the important message!!!

Kimberly Lang said...

~frantically shops for Pam's Bday present...~

And you were brave then, but you're inspiring now!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Since meeting you and hearing your story, I've been absolutely amazed by you as a person. Thanks so much for talking about this. Women need to hear it. Can't wait to see you at the HOD luncheon! :)

Pamela Hearon said...

Love you guys! Thanks so much for stopping by. Let's get this message out to everyone we know. Maybe we can wipe out this disaease during our lifetime!



Mary Ricksen said...

All I can say is thank God!
You are amazing girl!

Stephanie said...

Thank you for sharing your story!!!!! So inspiring!!

Lisa Kessler said...

Congratulations on beating cancer!!!

My Mom is a two-time cancer survivor. She's been in remission for over 20 years now!!!

You've got a great message to share!

Lisa :)

Toni V.S. said...

I also had DCIS and can't say enough about self-exams and early detection. I've also written about it on my own website as well as others. Thanks for something we all need to know about.

Pamela Hearon said...

Thank you, Mary! And a hearty Amen!:-)


Pamela Hearon said...

Thanks for joining me here today, Stephanie! So glad you stopped by:-)

Pamela Hearon said...

Stay on top of it, Lisa! Thanks for sharing about your mother. She's an inspiration to us all:-)


Pamela Hearon said...

Glad you're doing well! Let's work together to continually get the message out.
Thanks for stopping by today:-)


Marilyn said...

I am so proud to say that I know you. You are an inspiration. Congratulations for all of your good fortune.
Marilyn Meisenheimer

Tiffany Green said...

You are one brave lady, Pam! I pray you're cancer-free forever. Take care and good luck with your writing.

Pamela Hearon said...

So glad you stopped by! Thanks for your kind comments:-)


Pamela Hearon said...

From your lips to God's ears, Tiffany:-D Thanks for the words of encouragement. Glad you stopped by!


Sutton Fox said...

What a truly inspiring story. Thank you very much for sharing it.

Mary Ricksen said...

Thank God you are well! And you will never have to worry about it again. It's amazing what they do these days! Good Luck!

Pamela Hearon said...

So nice to have you here, Sutton. Thanks for the support!


Pamela Hearon said...

It is truly amazing, Mary! You'd never know my cleavage isn't the real thing:-) Thanks for dropping in!


Lilly Gayle said...

Pam, Congrats on your rebirth. As a mammographer AND a breast cancer survivor, I applaud you.

I had no family history. No symptoms. No prior breast problems or complaints. I was diagnosed on a screening mammogram. The mammogram I had just 18 months earlier was completely normal.

On June 26, 2007, I had a excisional biopsy. ON July 3, 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Invasive carcinoma of the right breast with DCIS. I then had a lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiation. I was 47.

I've also since had a core biopsy on the left that, thank God! was negative. But had it not been negative, I would have elected to have a bilateral mastectomy with a tram flap (reconstructive surgery that uses belly fat instead of implants.) Hey, I have enough to spare. ;-)

Thanks for sharing this informative and personal post.

And ladies 40 and over, even if you don't have a family history or symptoms, get a mammogram every year. It could save your life.

Pamela Hearon said...

Oh Wow, Lilly!!! Thank you so much for sharing your incredible story. We need to tell them and women need to hear them. That's the only way to fight the fear. Sooo glad you stopped by.


Becca Dale said...

Let me start by saying congrats on your recovery. I am amazed at the possibilities of plastic surgery today. My mom is a breast cancer survivor and though she had reconstruction surgery twenty-four years ago, she continues to suffer from esteem issues. Fortunately, that is the lesser of the evils. Had she waited like the local doctors wanted her to, we might not have her today. Please, please, please ladies follow a regular plan of self-examinations and mammograms. As your story proves, Pamela, there is no such thing as being overly cautious. Thanks for sharing.

Beth Trissel said...

Deeply moving and amazing story. I'm very glad you shared this. You are an inspiration.

Pamela Hearon said...

Thanks, Beth! Lance Armstrong says it best: "Unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything."

Glad you stopped by:-)


Pamela Hearon said...

My mother's breast cancer was 20 years ago. No one ever mentioned reconstruction to her. We've come a long way!
Thanks for your comments!


Liz Flaherty said...

Wow. What a great post. My family history is a lot like yours, and every year at squeeze time, I expect this to be the year. I always figured I'd do exactly what you did, and you've made me all the more certain that decision would be the right one.

Godspeed and thank you.

Carol L. said...

Hi Pamela,
An amazing story. And sharing with everyone your experience. I pray you will always be C. free.My 22 year old daughter is a cancer survivor for almost 14 years now.She didn't have breast cancer, she had bone cancer-osteo sarcoma of her right shoulder when she was 7 and a half. They removed her right shoulder and put in a titanium implant. I thank God every single day for her full recovery.I hope we can beat all cancer in our life times.
Carol L.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

What an inspirational post, and what an amazing woman you are. Thanks for sharing your story.