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When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I knew from minute one that I would have a bilateral mastectomy. Sign me up for the most conservative approach and nice new fake boobs. At 34 years old, my plan was to go with the odds and choose the surgery that would give me the best chance of survival. 

A few days before my surgery, I’m sitting in my chair and I hear Steve flipping through US Weekly magazine with sounds like, “Nope, nope, hmm, maybe, YES, those are the ones.” I knew what he was doing, but I decided to humor him.  “Steve, what is it that you are doing over there?” I said. His response, “Shopping for your new boobs.” His selection: JWOWW. Clearly, that is not happening.

On the morning of September 15, 2011, I went into surgery, but not without drama first! In tow was Steve, Mom, Dad, Aunt Lynn, Steve’s parents, and my BFF Lisa. It was the first time Steve’s parents and mine were meeting, but hell, I’d be out for 5 hours so Steve would have to deal with that awkwardness. Sidebar: Steve and I have been together for a really long time, but it took cancer for our parents to meet (we don’t do things like normal couples, don’t ask).

Steve and I are in pre-op and in comes this blond Austrian anesthesiologist. She starts asking the standard questions, but then they started to appear strange, almost alarming. I ask, “Is there something wrong?” Her response, “Well, yes, it appears from your EKG that you’ve had a heart attack.” That was it, I lost it. WTF! Long story short, Steve gets stern with the doctors, my dad almost has a heart attack when he finds out, and I get wheeled in for an Echocardiogram. My doctors have a “conference” and I get wheeled into the Operating Room.  Turns out, my heart is completely fine according to the head of Cardiology at St. Barnabas.

I woke up in the recovery room about 5 hours later and the pain was pretty bearable. Definitely not as bad as my ACL knee surgery in ’95. The first person I saw was Steve and the news wasn’t great. The cancer spread to my lymph nodes and we’d have to wait a week to find out how many nodes were cancerous (all were removed in surgery and 8 ended up being cancerous). We knew this was a possibility so this news didn’t completely shock me.

Turns out, a lumpectomy wasn’t an option after my breast surgeon went in and saw the spread, so I made the right decision. My other BFF Natalie and my sister came to visit and within 24 hours I was released. Flat chested and a little drugged, I was home again. Round one was over and I was still standing.

When he knew I was ready for a little joking, Steve turned to me and said, “How does it feel to have no boobs?” I replied, “I never really liked them.”

Happiness & Strength,
Marie Tomi Policastro

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