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Karen Soderstrom – Breast Cancer Success Story

Woman to woman: How plastic surgery helped Karen Soderstrom overcome breast cancer and love her body

Karen Soderstrom – Breast Cancer Success StoryOn Feb. 19, 2013, I heard the four little words that all women dread: You have breast cancer. I was only 42 years old, married to the love of my life, and raising two beautiful daughters. Needless to say, I was determined to beat this thing.

Fortunately, we caught it early, and within two weeks, we’d met with every doctor involved with my care at Methodist Richardson Medical Center. I felt so comfortable with everyone and liked that they presented me with options.

While I only had tumors in my right breast, I ultimately chose to have a double mastectomy. It’s a hard decision for any woman, but three factors made it easier for me.

First, it reduced the chance of cancer in my other breast. Second, I’m young enough that I want to have a feminine look, and it was easier to reconstruct symmetrical breasts if both sets of breast tissue were removed. Third, I had the amazing support of my family. My husband told me, “You’ll always be beautiful in my eyes.”

My breast surgery took place on March 13. Breast surgeon Jenevieve Hughes, MD, first removed the breast tissue, then plastic surgeon Denton Watumull, MD, FACS, placed temporary implants that would later be expanded to the size I wanted. Throughout the entire process in the following months, I appreciated how honest and straightforward he was with me while still being sympathetic to my situation.

As for my family, humor was our coping mechanism; we looked for it in everything. My friends teased me about my new breast size, and that reminded me that this was a process and to focus on how great I’d look in the end. And they were right: My breasts today feel and look like real breasts, complete with newly tattooed nipples. It’s amazing what modern plastic surgery can do.

As much as I love my body, more important is the relief that the cancer is gone. Every time I look at myself in the mirror, I see the scars, and they’re still a reminder — a reminder that I accomplished something really huge in fighting cancer.

Everyone has their own feelings and desires about what they want done to their body, but I encourage women facing cancer to have hope. You can beat this!