Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Chance at Life



Guest article by Leonore H. Dvorkin

In 1998, at age 52, I had breast cancer and a left-side mastectomy. That was my eighth major operation, but my first for the treatment of a life-threatening disease.

Almost immediately after the operation, I became aware that there were unexpected benefits to be reaped from this experience, benefits which ended up changing my life and many of my attitudes.
Eventually I decided to write a book detailing those many benefits and my thoughts on a variety of topics related to health, health care, self-image, and the value of courage and optimism in the face of adversity.

Surviving breast cancer left me a happier, calmer, more focused, and more appreciative person. Now my principal message to other women is that breast cancer does not have to be an entirely negative, terror-inducing experience. On the contrary, it can leave them better off than they were before, both physically and emotionally. My book is primarily the story of that physical and emotional journey.

Full details:
Also available in Spanish: Una nueva oportunidad a la vida: El camino de una sobreviviente de cáncer de seno

Leonore Dvorkin

Patricia Wellingham-Jones reviewed the book for the April 2010 edition of the quarterly magazine Recovering The Self. 

A portion of the review is reproduced here with permission of the editor.

"Synopsis: A memoir full of practical truths and healing suggestions.

"Leonore Dvorkin...writes with refreshing simplicity and lack of woe. The book reads like a novel, so engaging is her style. Her stated goal is to show readers that, with luck and hard work, they can come out on the other side of the horrific experience of cancer both healthier and happier than before...I know from my own situation that this is true.

"She takes us from discovery through biopsy and surgery (mastectomy), the relief of not needing chemotherapy or radiation, the wonders of mastectomy bras, and building her life afterwards. Along the way, she learns that cancer (or any truly traumatic event) teaches us to cherish every day, every moment of our lives.

"She ends her story with a gentle, reflective chapter of great wisdom called Aging, Accepting, and Appreciating.

"The reader gets to know Leonore Dvorkin and her loving husband, David, and I admire the active life she continues to lead as tutor of Spanish and German, translator, proofreader, and weight training instructor. This book is the epitome of healing after trauma."

"A terrific read — well-written, frank, and honest. This book's many hard-won truths make it truly special and inspiring." — Nina Romberg (a.k.a. Jane Archer), author of Shadow Walkers and The Spirit Stalker

"This book is a straightforward account of living through and beyond breast cancer. It addresses the fears of women everywhere, yet gives hope for an even better life because of the experience. It could be read more than once, as it offers insights into the various stages of dealing with and living with breast cancer no matter what the woman's age or stage in life." — Werner Baumgartner MD, Lakewood, Colorado

Excerpt from Chapter ONE:  Introduction

Every August 11th, I celebrate the anniversary of my left–side mastectomy, an operation that marked a significant and joyous turning point in my life.

This book relates some of the facts surrounding my experience with breast cancer as a disease and some details of my particular type of mastectomy. I'll tell you how I discovered the cancer, the steps that were taken to rid me of it, what kind of pain I had after the mastectomy, and what the aftereffects of the operation have been.

Then come additional musings, all with a highly personal slant, on the whole tangle of related subjects: fear of surgery and death, the inevitable "Why me?" question, femininity and body image, sex and breasts or the lack thereof, cancer as measured against other types of health problems, the tremendous value of emotional support from others in times of crisis, our wonderful 21st–century openness about illness, and more.

I want to state at the outset that I in no way intend to say to other breast cancer survivors or patients: "This is the way you should feel. This is the way you should react. This is the path of treatment you should select." Absolutely not! Your emotions and reactions and medical choices are your own.

If my words can be of help and encouragement to other women who have gone through the same experience or who are going through it now, then that will be a rich reward. However, this book is primarily for the many women who have not yet developed breast cancer but who will in the future, as well as for all the others who fear they might develop it. I've written this book to tell them that breast cancer does not have to be counted among the greatest traumas of their lives. Instead, with luck, they can go on living and doing all they did before. They can come out on the other side of the experience better than they were before, both healthier and happier.

I know this is true, because it happened to me. What follows here is the story of how.

Another Chance at Life


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