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Amy Robach is undergoing a double mastectomy, but that treatment option might not suit everyone.
Amy Robach had been putting off a mammogram, and then she got talked into it. The fact is that everyone is so busy and stretched. She’s a mother working in a rapidly advancing career. It’s hard to find the time to take care of yourself.
I don’t know anything about the nature of the breast cancer and what stage it’s in — the diagnosis is very specific to the individual — so she probably right now is in the midst of sorting through a lot of new, confusing, scary information.
Doctors now want to know what kind of cancer, where did it start, is it invasive? So they begin to gather this information, and it comes in bits and pieces.
She’s scheduled to have a bilateral mastectomy. We don’t know why she made that choice. It’s an interesting thing, because you can go for a mammogram in public, and then you can let the public know that you have breast cancer, but when it comes to the treatment — she announced what she was doing, but didn’t say why she was doing it.
If someone has a big cancer in a breast or she has multiple cancers in the same breast, then mastectomy is the recommended treatment. For an early-stage disease, you’re given a choice how you’re going to treat the removal (a lumpectomy or a mastectomy). Some women say, ‘You know what, I’m so freaked out by this diagnosis, so I’m going to do what I can to reduce my risk.’ They may choose mastectomy out of fear.
And most women who have breast cancer don’t have a family history. Most women who get breast cancer get it primarily through their lifestyle, environmental exposures, medicines they take, growing older, etc. So there are a whole list of factors that contribute to the risk of breast cancer that are separate from the genes you inherit from your parents.
Even the thin vegetarian yoga instructor with no family history is at risk for breast cancer. No one really gets a free pass, and no one expects it to happen.
Whenever a celebrity is generous and shares her story publicly, it does inspire women to take care of themselves. But we still need to respect her privacy. Everyone has to make her own individual choices depending on the extent and nature of the cancer.
As told to Corinne Lestch
Dr. Marisa Weiss is president and founder of Breastcancer.org