Me and the Girls: Zunilda Guzman
Guzman got both breasts surgically removed (a bilateral mastectomy) in June 2009. Then she got genetic testing, which showed she had a BRCA gene mutation that meant she was at high risk not only for breast cancer, but also for ovarian cancer, which has no screening tests.
Again, Guzman quickly opted for aggressive treatment -- having surgery to remove her ovaries and uterus.
"I don't want to wait," she told her doctors. "I want to have everything done so I can start my chemo and get rid of this right away." She had her ovaries and uterus surgically removed a month and a half after her double mastectomy.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy followed. Guzman also takes the drug Arimidex and will do so for five years to help prevent cancer's return.
Quick recoveries: Guzman says she took four days off work after her mastectomy and was back at work the second day after her ovaries and uterus were removed.
"I was also at the gym," she says. "I'm a runner. I would run 5 miles a day.... I was very active before all this." Guzman says.
She kept working out through chemotherapy. "During chemo, I never stopped going to the gym," Guzman says. She took a few days off her workouts after each chemotherapy session, and she says the exercise helped her relieve stress and recover.
Guzman's husband, who often went with her to the gym, encouraged her to stay active. "My husband never told me, 'Babe, lie down because you feel bad.' No. 'Let's go around the block and walk the dogs.' Things like that -- always kept me active. And I feel that that helps a lot. "Working out, being active while you're going through all this is very helpful."
Reconstruction planned: Guzman intends to undergo breast reconstruction. "I like to look good," she says. "I like to wear cleavage, I like to wear dresses. But I'm also like a tomboy. I like to wear shorts, go out in the yard, play football, play baseball," she says.
There are several ways that breast reconstruction can be done. One way is for doctors to insert tissue expanders in the area where the breasts were. Those expanders stretch the chest tissue, and over several months, doctors insert fluid into the expanders, making room for implants, which are surgically exchanged for the expanders once the expanders are the right side.