The Miami Beach club scene is full of Playboy Playmate look-alikes with beauty secrets. About a year ago, while in the bathroom of Fontainebleaus LIV, a drunken blond with bursting cleavage asked if she could borrow my nude lip gloss. We were both on the same vanity mirror, but she was a stranger. I rushed to hide the gloss in my golden clutch bag. I pulled out my bronzing blush and brushed it on my face and neck to create the illusion of a summer glow.
I went to sleep with breasts and woke up without them at Baptist Hospital. I never flashed them during Mardi Gras, nor did I profit from them online. The 34-Cs lived a short private life. In their place were two saltwater balloons called expanders. They were hiding behind a very tight white bra. The drugs were flowing intravenously, friends surrounded me and I was grateful to be alive. The medical director of Baptist Health Breast Center, Dr. Robert DerHagopian, had performed a simple bilateral mastectomy.
Narcotics detectives hunt addicts and traffickers for the sort of painkillers that are prescribed to breast cancer patients after a bilateral mastectomy. Oxycodone can destroy a life. I decided to stay away from it on the fifth day after the surgery. That was a big mistake. It was torture. I felt like there were little creatures with sharp objects poking and tearing me from within. The pain was so excruciating it made me weep. Why are you crying? Thats not going to solve anything, said my mom.
When Dr. Tamar Ference found out she had breast cancer, she spent a week in her home. She could not believe that after helping so many cancer patients as a doctor of physiatrics, she would be thrown such a curveball. I didnt want to talk to any one. I disappeared. I was in shock. There was no way I could be there for my patients that week, said Ference, also an assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Its tough to find out you have breast cancer even for someone like me.
Resilient cancer cells that may have been plotting to invade again met a new enemy this week: external beam radiation therapy. It was uncertain if the ionizing radiation six-week attack, meant to damage DNA, would help stop the cellular aberration for good. Despite undergoing chemotherapy and a mastectomy, I was still likely not free of cancer. I was scared. Experts say that about 20 to 30 percent of breast cancer patients are considered at high risk of recurrence after a mastectomy.
The ugly truth about breast cancer is not an easy one to share, but it is an important mission that many beautiful women take seriously. Former Miss Venezuela Eva Ekvall, whose struggle with breast cancer began in 2010 and ended with her death last week at age 28, allowed a photographer to document her physical transformation during treatment. I hate to see photos in which I come out ugly. But you know what? Nobody ever said cancer is pretty, Ekvall said.