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Breast Cancer Health Center

Me and the Girls: Zunilda Guzman

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That's the type of reconstruction Guzman says she wants. But she had gotten radiation therapy on one breast, and the radiation may have made her skin not right for expanders.

"They're thinking that maybe the skin is not going to give so much," Guzman says. If that's the case, she'll get another type of breast reconstruction in which doctors transplant tissue from elsewhere in the patient's body to the breast area. That’s a more complicated process.

The breast reconstruction process often starts at the same time as mastectomy, but it doesn't have to. It can be done months or even years later.

No pity wanted: Guzman made it clear to her family and friends that she didn't want pity. "I didn't want, 'Oh, poor thing.' No. I didn't want that at all."

What she wanted was positive support. She says her brother even told people, "If you're going to walk into her house to give her pity, I don't want you in that house." Her family and friends rallied. Her cousins took her to the mall to go shopping, her husband went walking with her and their dogs. And when she was laid off from work a few months ago, she found another accounting job.

"The house is not good," she says. "Being home and that couch and just feeling bad -- no, that's not good. Get out. Go out. Why can't you do things? Why? OK, you're going to feel sick one day from chemo. Fine, but get up, go out. It doesn't matter."

At the gym, she's heard pity from women in the locker room who notice her condition. Guzman sets them straight, saying, "I'm alive and that's what counts."

But of course, having cancer has been hard. Very hard.

"It gets real tough," Guzman says. "Chemo is tough, and looking at myself in the mirror every day is very, very tough, especially that scar across the chest and [having] hardly [any] hair."

"But you know what?" Guzman asks. "I looked to the side and I saw my family and I saw my daughter -- my number one. And whoever has kids, it doesn't matter. Look that you have life. You get up every morning and you say, 'I have a life and today is a good day.' And that's what you have to give thanks to God every day for.... and have lots of faith in God, that he is always listening."

Share your breast cancer stories on WebMD's breast cancer message board.

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Reviewed on September 18, 2009

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