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Breast Cancer Health Center

Me and the Girls: Mary Manasco

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Manasco had no family history of breast cancer, but her mother had died of liver cancer at age 51.

Treatment and recovery: Manasco says recovering from her lumpectomy "was not a big deal," and she could drive two days after the surgery.

She had her double mastectomy in July 2009, and says there is still some swelling under her arm and her back is still "a little sore ... but other than that, I'm doing OK. I'm getting back to normal, whatever normal is. I just have a new normal now."

Manasco also got radiation therapy, but not chemotherapy. She says the radiation therapy didn't hurt, and the health care providers were wonderful. But she found herself "dreading" it because she had to go for radiation so often -- five days a week for seven weeks. "That's just a mental thing," she says.

When Manasco completed her first round of radiation therapy in 2008, after her lumpectomy, she got to hold her first grandchild, who had been born a week earlier. But after her mastectomy, she couldn't pick her up while she recovered from the surgery. "She's a squirmy, wiggly, heavy 11-month-old and she was just way too much to hold," Manasco says.

"She doesn't really want to be held anyway ... she's probably, like, 'Thank goodness that old woman isn't kissing on me all the time!" Manasco laughs. "But it's been hard to not even be able to pick her up."

Choosing reconstruction: Manasco chose to undergo breast reconstruction after her double mastectomy. But she says she wasn't emotional about losing her breasts.

"If I were younger, it might have," Manasco says. "I'm old enough -- having a breast or not did not matter one bit to me. I even considered not having reconstruction and, who knows, maybe wear a prosthesis, maybe not."

Manasco says her appearance after her mastectomy "did not even bother me the first time that I saw when the bandages were off .... the part about being alive and assuming everything is taken care of is much more important."

Ultimately, she decided to go ahead with reconstruction. "I can be Dolly Parton if I want to, but I don't want to," she laughs. "I had big enough breasts the first time ... I just want clothes to look halfway decent. I don't really care. The fact that I've had two different episodes [with breast cancer] and I'm really feeling fine -- that's the main thing."

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