Posts Tagged ‘ double mastectomy ’

Samantha Harris: Looking Good Feeling Better

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

After being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a double mastectomy, Samantha Harris (former host of Dancing With The Stars) has had a year of change. A ball of energy, she celebrated her cancer-free status last night at the 30th annual DreamBall for Look Good Feel Better, an international organization dedicated to boosting the self-confidence of men and women dealing with breast cancer through beauty and style workshops. A mother of two—Josselyn, 7, and Hillary, 3—Harris sat down with Parents to talk about surviving breast cancer and the delicate balance between looking good and feeling better.

P: What does it mean to be the Look Good Feel Better’s 2014 DreamGirl?

SH: It’s such a special organization and to be honored by them for being inspiring through my diagnosis almost seems wrong because I’ve been inspired by so many other women. I feel that I’m really representing all these other survivors who reached out to me through social media to share their stories and open up to me about getting through the treatments and living through the diagnosis and coming out the other side. There was this elusive “other side” that everyone talked about and now I can officially say I am on the other side and I am a survivor.

P: You didn’t undergo chemo or radiation, so did you take advantage of LGFB?

SH: I did attend one of the LGFB workshops in Northridge, CA at one of the hospitals there [before my decision about chemo]. The women in the room were so tremendously inspiring because they had the strength to come in and sit in a room of strangers and take off their wigs and headscarves and be clean-faced. But the point of the workshop is to be able to give women and men tools to find normalcy at a time in your life that is far from normal and help regain some of that confidence. Even though on the one hand you say “Health is all that’s important who cares what you look like” what you look like is what gives you the confidence to be able to focus on only taking care of yourself.

P: You chose to tell your daughters about your diagnosis separately. Where did you come up with that plan? 

SH: Knowing that I needed to communicate that Mommy was undergoing something pretty intense but not scare them was a daunting task. One website said it’s important that the message is delivered in a different way depending on their age. My mom had had back surgery recently and it was the first time my older daughter experienced seeing someone laid up in bed. So I said “Just like Grandma had back surgery and she was in her bed for a little while getting better but now you see her running around Mommy also has to have some surgery.” I also wanted to make sure that the first time she heard the word “cancer” it wasn’t some deep dark scary thing to whisper in a corner like years past. I was really open with them.

P: How did your diagnosis change your perspective on motherhood?

SH: It made me feel sad for my daughters because now they are at a higher risk because their mom had cancer. But I turned by perspective on that to say that my girls have a leg up because they will be checked and monitored much more closely than had I never had cancer. Hopefully, G-d forbid if cancer is in their path, we’re gonna find it earlier and get rid of it faster. Or hopefully G-d willing we’ll have a cure. That would be even better.

P: The idea of Look Good Feel Better is such a poignant one, yet the focus on women’s appearance is a hot-button issue. As a mom of girls, what is your approach to this seesaw?

SH: It’s hard in a very modern feminist world to justify that I feel defined by my looks, because I’m not defined by my looks. But you are very much yourself when you feel like you like yourself.As for my girls, my 7-year-old has started to become more body aware and it’s sad to me that it’s starting so early. She’s noticed that she has hair on her arms and her legs. She’s been wearing pants in the hot weather. I thought, you know what I can’t believe I’m going to be shaving my daughter’s legs this early (not with a razor, just men’s clippers) but there are enough things to be self-conscious about I didn’t want her to be self conscious about body stuff.

It’s a double-edged sword because how you present yourself in the world influences how people perceive you. As women we have an asset because we can use products to make us feel better outwardly and if that little bit helps your confidence on the inside then you’ll be more successful in everything else you do. I think it’s important for girls to know it’s ok to care about your appearance—it’s important—it’s not ok to obsess about it. That, I think, is the distinguishing factor.

One great way to look good and feel better? Check out our pregnancy fitness workout below!

Celebrity Pregnancy Workout: Total Body Tune-Up
Celebrity Pregnancy Workout: Total Body Tune-Up
Celebrity Pregnancy Workout: Total Body Tune-Up

New to working out? Check out our mommy exercise tips.

Photograph: Samantha and family

 

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5 Celebrity Moms Who’ve Had Mastectomies

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

celeb moms who had mastectomies

This post was written by our friends at Celebrity Baby Scoop.

Mother-of-six Angelina Jolie shocked fans with the news of her recent preventative double mastectomy. After testing positive for a faulty BRCA1 gene, the Academy Award-winning actress put the spotlight on the sensitive procedure that many other women have elected to have.

Angelina is not the first famous woman to open up about this surgery. Let’s take a look at five celebrity moms who have undergone the procedure.

Angelina Jolie:

After losing her mom to ovarian cancer and then learning that she has the BRCA1 gene mutation, Angelina Jolie, 37, opted to have a preventive double mastectomy. She also plans to have her ovaries removed.

In May 2013, the Salt star went public about the procedure in an op-ed piece, writing that she felt “empowered” by her decision. “Life comes with many challenges,” she wrote. “The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of.”

Christina Applegate:

At age 36, Christina Applegate was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2008. At first, she opted to have a lumpectomy. But after learning she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene mutation, she chose to have both breasts removed in a bilateral mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery a few months later.

“It came on really fast. It was one of those things that I woke up and it felt so right,” she told Oprah Winfrey. “It just seemed like, ‘I don’t want to have to deal with this again. I don’t want to keep putting that stuff in my body. I just want to be done with this.’ And I was just going to let them go.”

She added: “It can be very painful. It’s also a part of you that’s gone, so you go through a grieving process.”

Giuliana Rancic:

At age 37, Giuliana Rancic was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. The E! News personality has spoken openly about her decision to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

“At the end, to be honest, all it came down to was just choosing to live, and not looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life,” Giuliana told TODAY.

“In helping other women, you end up helping yourself,” she said. “You end up being able to validate one of the most painful times in your life by realizing that maybe all the pain and the fear and the tears were worth it.”

Wanda Sykes:

The decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy was an easy one for Wanda Sykes. After being diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), the comedienne wanted to give herself “the best odds” of beating the noninvasive breast cancer and sticking around for her partner Alex, and their 2-year-old twins Olivia and Lucas for many years to come.

“I made my decision because I love life,” Wanda, 47, said of her double mastectomy.

“My first thought was, ‘Really? Me, breast cancer?’” Wanda recalls of the day doctors discovered the cancer after her breast reduction surgery. “I just couldn’t believe it. But I knew this was doable.”

Sharon Osbourne:

In November 2012, The Talk host Sharon Osbourne revealed she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery at age 60 after learning she was at increased risk for breast cancer.

“As soon as I found out I had the breast cancer gene, I thought, ‘The odds are not in my favor,’” Sharon told Hello! “I’ve had cancer before, and I didn’t want to live under that cloud. I decided to just take everything off, and had a double mastectomy.”

She added: “For me, it wasn’t a big decision, it was a no-brainer. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with that shadow hanging over me. I want to be around for a long time and be a grandmother.”

More Celebrity Parenting News:

10 Female Celebrity Breadwinners

Garcelle Beauvais: “I’m Happiest When We’re All Together”

Gabrielle Reece: “My Quote Was Taken Out Of Context”

Amy Grant: “I Don’t Know If I Do Balance It All”

Celebrity Baby Scoop is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on Celebrity Baby Scoop.

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Why Angelina Jolie Is a Breast Cancer Previvor and a Hero

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Angelia JolieEditor’s Note: This guest post was written by Dina Roth Port, mom of two children and frequent contributor to Parents. She is also the author of Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions.

You might not like some of her movies. You might think she’s a little out there (at least during those Billy Bob Thornton years.) You might be a little peeved that she can take care of six kids and still look poised and breathtakingly beautiful all the time.

Whether you like her or not, one thing is for sure: Angelina Jolie is a hero. She’s using her celebrity for good by telling women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer that they are not alone. Some may fear dealing with tough decisions alone, not realizing there are thousands upon thousands of other women who completely understand what they’re going through.

In today’s issue of The New York Times, Jolie publicly shared her very personal decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. As she says in her op-ed piece, “I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they, too, will be able to get gene tested, and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.”

Jolie’s letting women around the world know that they no longer have to live in fear of breast cancer. They have options. They can determine cancer risk by testing for a BRCA mutation and taking charge of their health in ways that previous generations never could. Jolie knows this all too well. When she tested positive for a BRCA1 gene, she knew she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer. She knew she was a previvor — someone who has not had cancer but who has a high risk for developing it. Since her mom died of ovarian cancer just six years ago, Jolie knew that it was a major red flag that there might be a BRCA mutation in the family. After finding out that she did inherit the mutation, she decided to do something about it.

Of course, there are naysayers: “I can’t relate to Angelina Jolie. She’s a celebrity with endless resources. Her life is nothing like mine.” But getting a double mastectomy is a very difficult, personal decision for any woman, as I learned interviewing the five women featured in my book, Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions, all of whom had to make choices — some had surgery, some did not — just like Jolie. Sure, she may be a famous, multimillionaire engaged to Brad Pitt, but Jolie’s still a woman taking steps that can potentially save her life. And, as a mother, Jolie decided she would do what she needed to do to protect her children (just like any mother would). She is showing women that, after surgery, it is still possible to look and feel feminine and whole. She is also showing women that it’s possible to make tough decisions and still have the support of a loving partner.

I thank Jolie for sharing her story and for encouraging women to learn about the ways they can protect themselves. She is incredibly brave for doing so, particularly since her journey is not over. Thank you, Angelina Jolie, for putting such a public face to the word “previvor.”

More about breast cancer on Parents.com

 

Image: Angelina Jolie in Berlin via Shutterstock.

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