Voices Podcast – Episode #4: Mastectomy, or Not — Breast Cancer Surgery Decisions

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Amanda Skypeck, Judy Rosenbaum

Breast cancer patients Amanda Skypeck (left) and Judy Rosenbaum (right) selected two very different surgeries and treatment plans.

When Judy Rosenbaum was diagnosed with breast cancer, the thought of serious treatment and surgery, like a mastectomy, was frightening. Working with her doctors and care team, Judy found a “less is more” treatment approach and elected to have a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy.

“I was terrified of having surgery,” Rosenbaum says. “The only other time I had been in a hospital was to have my children.”

But for patient Amanda Skypeck, who carries the BRCA1 mutation, a double mastectomy was a no-brainer. In fact, she had planned to have the preventive surgery even before her diagnosis. It was during her pre-surgery exam when her surgeon found a lump.

“When I found out it was cancer, it was very upsetting, but I’m grateful that all of this came up when it did,” Skypeck says.

Although they chose different surgical paths, Skypeck and Rosenbaum agree that it’s important for women to pursue the treatment plan that makes sense for them. In this Voices podcast episode, the two women discuss their decisions with Tari King, MD, chief of breast surgery with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

“Women should think about what’s best for them and what feels comfortable and right,” Rosenbaum says. “It’s really important to consider not just your fear of the cancer coming back, but also how all the different steps of treatment are going to play a part in your life. Listen to yourself.”

Hear more from King, Rosenbaum and Skypeck by listening to the podcast episode below or click “download” to listen later. Subscribe options are also available via iTunes, Android, the Stitcher app, TuneIn app, and RSS.

The Voices podcast series features stories from cancer patients who share their experiences coping with their life-changing diagnoses and treatment. Season 1 of Voices features breast cancer patients. Visit the Voices page for more episodes and Dana-Farber’s podcast page for more information on other cancer podcast series.

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One thought on “Voices Podcast – Episode #4: Mastectomy, or Not — Breast Cancer Surgery Decisions

  1. I think that in addition to deciding whether or not to have a mastectomy, a bi-lateral mastectomy, or a lumpectomy, it is important that women know that whatever they decide about reconstruction is up to them. I had both breasts removed due to cancer when I was 46. I chose not to have reconstructive surgery. BUT that was my decision. It was what worked for me. Do I regret my decision? Not at all. Sometimes clothing and bathing suits can be a bit of an issue, but I am happy with my decision; however, it would not have worked for a good friend of mine who chose reconstruction. Women should just feel supported in their decision whatever it is.

  2. I think that in addition to deciding whether or not to have a mastectomy, a bi-lateral mastectomy, or a lumpectomy, it is important that women know that whatever they decide about reconstruction is up to them. I had both breasts removed due to cancer when I was 46. I chose not to have reconstructive surgery. BUT that was my decision. It was what worked for me. Do I regret my decision? Not at all. Sometimes clothing and bathing suits can be a bit of an issue, but I am happy with my decision; however, it would not have worked for a good friend of mine who chose reconstruction. Women should just feel supported in their decision whatever it is.

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