A diagnosis of breast cancer may leave one feeling very much alone with worries and concerns, but breast cancer is now more treatable than ever with proper treatment. Many celebrities have successfully beat breast cancer, and their candor about their experiences should give newly diagnosed women hope. Here are three stories from celebrities who have fought breast cancer and won.
Sheryl Crow, musician and singer
Sheryl Crow’s breast cancer was found during a routine mammogram. Her cancer was in the very early stages of development. In fact, it was in such early stages that Crow’s treatment consisted of minimally invasive surgery and several weeks of radiation therapy. She did not require any chemotherapy.
Sheryl’s lesson: Annual mammograms save lives
From their late teens or very early 20s, women should be performing routine, monthly breast self exams and bringing any abnormalities to the attention of their doctor. At about age 40, women should start having routine mammograms, even if they don’t have significant risk factors for breast cancer. Mammograms and self breast exams are crucial to early breast cancer diagnosis in many women. The earlier breast cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat and the more likely it is to be survived.
Judy Blume, author
Author of such books as “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” and “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing,” Judy Blume was diagnosed with breast cancer during an ultrasound as a result of having dense breast tissue and concerns about her mammogram results. Her diagnosis was confirmed by a biopsy and she opted to have a mastectomy. Ultimately, she felt many of the same emotions as other women when they are first diagnosed — fear and aloneness. She had a biopsy followed by mastectomy. It was by being open about her diagnosis that Judy Blume was able to cope and overcome the traumatic emotions associated with breast cancer.
Judy’s lesson: Form a network of support
Many of us need the support of family and friends when we face something as monumental and life-changing as breast cancer. However, some friends and family may not provide the particular form of support you need. It may be helpful to reach out to breast cancer survivors and form a network with them. They can commiserate with you in ways that non-breast cancer survivors cannot. They may be able to support you when you feel down or afraid and inspire you when you are feeling up and fighting.
Melissa Etheridge, singer
Rocker Melissa Etheridge has a long family history of cancer. Her father, aunt, and grandmother all lost their lives to cancer. Etheridge’s breast cancer was diagnosed after she found a lump in her left breast. She had just had a physical exam so to find an abnormality was quite surprising. Etheridge had been fatigued and feeling somewhat unwell also. A biopsy confirmed that the lump was breast cancer and she had breast surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Although she notes that treatment was physically demanding, often leaving her feeling unable to do more than lay in bed, she beat breast cancer and was able to get back to her career and life.
Melissa’s lesson: Know your risk factors and pay attention to your body
Unfortunately, having a physical exam and receiving a clean bill of health isn’t a guarantee. Breast cancer can develop quickly with a lump seeming to appear out of the blue. Etheridge understood that having a family history of cancer increased her risk of developing cancer as well. The lump, combined with feeling poorly, were indicators that she needed a medical evaluation right away. Knowing her risk factors, recognizing that she didn’t feel well in general, and seeking prompt attention may have saved her life.
You don’t have to be a celebrity to survive breast cancer, but you can learn from how these three women approached their cancer and survived. To learn more about your breast cancer treatment options, including reconstructive breast surgery after breast cancer treatment, please call Monarch Plastic Surgery today at (913) 663-3838 for our Leawood and Lansing offices and (816) 436-3262 for North Kansas City.