Me and the Girls: Diane Morgan
"All I could think of is if I'm going to have surgery that leaves me like that, forget it," she says. But her doctor assured her that surgical techniques had improved since her cousins were treated. Lymphedema can still occur, but it didn't happen to Morgan.
After her mastectomy, Morgan got seven weeks of radiation therapy. And throughout her treatment, she talked often with her sister, who had had a different type of breast cancer in the mid-1990s.
"The one thing that I marvel at is that her treatment was so severe compared to mine, and it just shows you, within a 10-year period or so, the great progress they've made," Morgan says.
No reconstruction: Morgan chose not to undergo breast reconstruction.
"I was not really into that," she says. "They did ask me and I didn't want to have any more surgery... the lopsidedness didn't bother me much at this stage of my life, and it still doesn't, really."
"I do have what I call my fancy falsie silicone prostheses," she says. "Once or twice I've worn a sports bra with the falsie in it, but it just doesn't bother me that much, and I tend to wear T-shirts and clothing that kind of disguises the fact that I am lopsided. But fortunately, there's no pain involved, and once in a while I get kind of stiff on that side, but other than that, they did a wonderful job of not hampering me in any way. I was very pleased with the way that turned out."
"A breast is not a vital organ. You can live without it."
Consoling her friends: Morgan's friends tried to offer support. But their attempts sometimes went awry. Some cried, others blurted out about people they knew who'd died of breast cancer. And sometimes, Morgan would have to turn the tables and comfort them.
"I'd be cheering them up, saying, 'I don't feel that bad yet. I don't think I'm dying here,'" Morgan says. "People mean so well. These are dear friends I've known for decades... but they were just fouling up."
Her advice to people who have a loved one going through breast cancer: "Call them up and be cheerful," Morgan says. "The person going through this thing wants to talk about something else. You want to be able to have some positive things and you want a break from the stress of the whole thing. So let the conversation go where it may."
Some of the cards she received didn't go over well.
"I didn't appreciate getting a lot of prayerful, serious illness cards. If it was my choice, I'd tell Hallmark to dump all those," Morgan says. "I'd say, 'Draw me a happy face on a piece of paper and send it to me. But don't send me, 'We're praying for you and may God be with you and all that kind of stuff, because that just supported the thought that I was in really big trouble and I was going to die. I was thinking positive."