Thirteen years after JoAnn Gorsky, then 46, underwent a lumpectomy in her left breast and completed radiation treatment for an early stage cancer in 2005, news of a recurrence came as a shock. Doctors diagnosed the West Babylon mother with stage 1 lobular carcinoma of the left breast.
"When you are told bad news, it's like getting hit in the face with a bat. I was hysterical because I knew that you can't treat the same breast with radiation twice and I would need a mastectomy," recalled JoAnn, now 63.
Making matters worse, she had heard accounts of women who had undergone a mastectomy complain of postoperative pain and muscle weakness and she feared the discomfort of drains or tubes that are often inserted into the surgical incision after the procedure to stop fluid from collecting there.
To JoAnn's relief, her postoperative discomfort was minimal and the drains did not need to be inserted. Within seven months, she summoned the nerve to have the right breast removed, where two benign lesions had been excised years earlier.
"I didn't want to eventually have cancer in that breast," she said. "My twin granddaughters are 15 and I want to dance at their weddings."
JoAnn's advice to others include, "Letting people help you, taking time out when you need it, and finding a wonderful support group."
"You can never say never," she said. "You need to be vigilant and be your own advocate."