It has been just over 4 months since my DIEP breast reconstruction surgery. The recovery has been tough and arduous. I’m still not at 100% and won’t be for probably a year post-op. But just knowing that my lifetime breast cancer is less than 5% makes it all worth it.

{The pic above is me before surgery overlooking Playa Potrero, where we lived for 3 months in Costa Rica at the beginning of this year.}

I am pleased and so very honoured to have worked with Courtney Martin and her videographer, Luke, from Surgical Studio, and my incredible surgeon, Dr. Islur, to create a video highlighting a very small part of my breast journey. The main reason behind this video is to let other women know that they have options and that they’re not alone. Being faced with a strong family history or a diagnosis of breast cancer is daunting, so very scary. Reaching even one woman, and thus her circle of loved one, is one more informed attack against the demon of cancer.

In the video, I spoke about the 3 main reasons why I chose to remove my breasts BEFORE a diagnosis of cancer – knowing that I may never have been diagnosed in my lifetime, but also knowing that the chances were pretty good that I would be.

I first spoke about my children…how I would do everything in my power to ensure that they would not lose their remaining parent to cancer, nor would they go through another cancer journey with me. I cannot guarantee that cancer will never strike me, as my breasts are just one part of my body – and cancer does have a way of finding other areas to fester. But I could remove a very strong risk, just as I removed my uterine cancer risk when I was just 26 years old.

kids

Then I spoke about Jesse. He has no idea – not one clue – how I lived, as a spouse, as my beloved Wayne lived with dying from brain cancer … and I want Jesse to remain clueless. Moreover, because of our age difference, me being older than he is, I want to be around as long as I can with him. That makes me accountable to him for my own health – and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

my love

My last reason was for me. To be honest, I am terrified of a cancer diagnosis. I’ve lived with cancer in some form or another, with loved ones, since my teen years. I KNOW how devastating a diagnosis can be, not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well. I felt that it was better for me to endure surgery at this time in my life – while I was young and healthy – than wait for a diagnosis. I cannot imagine going through this major surgery and subsequent recovery while a) fearing for my life, and b) attempting to tolerate the onslaught of cancer treatment.

While creating the video, Courtney told me to give the top 3 reasons why I did what I did. Yet two (and so many more!) receive honourable mention:

My parent, Frank and Sara, who are incredible inspirations. They both lost their first spouses while young. This week marks the 20th anniversary of my mother’s death to cancer, and Sara’s husband died from injuries in an motor vehicle accident about 25 years ago. Life hasn’t been easy for either of them, but they face obstacles head on, and their faith is their fortitude. I want to be around to learn more from them … and to be in close relationship with them.

parents

My granddaughter, Emilia, was an unexpected, yet welcomed, gift to our family. And even though we have now moved 24 hours away from her, I want to be involved in her life. I want her to know this Grandma loves her as only one can love a grandbaby. I want her to grow up with the knowledge that she can dream big, and that she is in charge of her own health and wellbeing. Her parents are doing an amazing job raising her, and I desire to be yet another loved one who helps cultivate her potential. (Her Mama is part of my reason, too…)

baby girl

Ready to watch the video? Click on the pic below:

my story dr islur site

Please please please forward this to anyone and everyone who may benefit from hearing this message. Yes, I went through my surgery and gruelling recovery for the reasons above. However, I know that I cannot stop there. I want to advocate for and educate women and their loved ones about their options, and for them to know that they’re not alone. I don’t have all the answers, and I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I know what worked for me and I’ve “been there, done that.”

Contact me/us through the “send us a message” link above, PM through FaceBook, or via email at cdlevair @ hotmail.com . We’d love to hear from you!

And I promise … this week, I will post an update about living another new chapter in this one (un)expected life: HomeComing

Links:

Corissa’s Breast Reconstruction Story

Surgical Studio

Dr. Avi Islur

YouTube