All breast cancer survivor stories are stories of courage, hope, faith, acceptance and determination. The disease has claimed so many lives. It has changed so many women. I have a friend who is well after battling the disease for 2 years. She told me that no one really knows how it feels until you actually go through it. I see myself also as a survivor of the disease. I lost my father to lung cancer. Our family had different stories to tell during that period in our lives.
Below is an interview with a beautiful woman who managed to survive the disease. Her battle is not just one story. Her life is composed of stories. Stories of loss, of denial, of surviving and of finding true love even when she had no hair and less than a pair of breasts.
Cathy Bueti is an author, a photographer and an Occupational Therapist. She also speaks about her experience with the tumor.
Ms. Bueti was generous enough to do a short interview in this site and to share her life as part of this site's breast cancer survivor stories.
If this is your first time to hear from or read about her, we both hope you find the interview as one of the helpful and inspiring breast cancer survivor stories there is.
Prevention Guide: Hi Cathy! Please tell us about your blog "In My Life" and your book "Breastless in the City".
Cathy Bueti: In my book, I wanted to share my story of how I continued to date bald and boobless. I felt like there was not a lot out there about women my age going through breast tumor. The issues are very unique compared to older women. Issues such as intimacy, fertility and dating.
My blog is where I share many stories. Sometimes I write about the big C, life after the disease and as its survivor, share news about it, as well as whatever else is going on in my life which is where I came up with that title. It is also a place where I share my creative side.
Prevention Guide: Aging is one of the major risk factors for many types of tumor. And looking at most of the breast cancer survivor stories out there, it seems more and more young women develop it. You were only 31 during your diagnosis. Were you able to understand what could have led to the tumor?
Cathy Bueti: At the time I did not. Looking back, during my recovery I wondered how much emotional stress and poor nutrition can negatively affect the health of your body. I believe that the mind and body are very connected.
I was always sick but just chocked that up to working in a hospital and being exposed to germs on a daily basis. I believe there are emotional as well as environmental causes to the disease.
Prevention Guide: That is so true. Your father died of pancreatic tumor 2 years ago. I read in your blog that you believe "everything happens for a reason even the bad stuff". As one of the breast cancer survivor stories featured here, what do you think was its biggest message to you being its survivor?
Cathy Bueti: I think that the disease was a wake up call for me. I tried to look at the things it could teach me about myself. I believe it was a way for me to make big changes in my life and how I was treating myself. It is a daily reminder that life is too short.
Prevention Guide: Your story is one of the inspiring breast cancer survivor stories there is. Your book talks about finding love even being diagnosed and being treated with breast tumor. What made you keep hoping and not give up on love?
Cathy Bueti: I am asked that question a lot. I think it was just a way for me to keep on living. When I was diagnosed I was so afraid I was going to die that it made me hold on tightly to the things in my life that made me feel alive. The things that made sense. For me that was working, going out with my friends, and dating.
I was angry at the disease for interfering in my life. It was my way to just keep moving forward.
Prevention Guide: You and your husband, Lou, look so good together and you wrote in your blog that you could see yourself growing old with him. How have you moved past the fear that the tumor might come back when you are much older? Or have you?
Cathy Bueti: I haven't moved past that fear. It is with me everyday. I think I have learned how to deal with it better. I don't think it every goes away. You have to learn how to handle the fear or it can consume you. The way that I have found to deal with the fear is to be creative. Creativity helps me get outside of my own noisy head and get lost in a project. For me that is writing, photography, and most recently painting.
Prevention Guide: Breast tumor is one of the types that can be inherited. What are your thoughts on genetic testing?
Cathy Bueti: I think I am a minority when I say that I choose to not get genetic testing. My doctors want me to get tested but I have declined. The reason why is that I know I would not do what is recommended if I test positive. If I were positive the doctors would recommended removing my ovaries and my other breast because of the increased risk of ovarian and recurrent breast tumor.
I look at things more holistically. Personally I would not remove organs just in case. It is a personal choice. I don't think there is one right or wrong way. You have to decide what is best for you and your quality of life. I think that environment and lifestyle are causative factors to cancer in addition to genetics.
Prevention Guide: Let's talk about survivor guilt syndrome. There are plenty of stories of people experiencing it. It happens when a person sees himself or herself to have done wrong by being a survivor of a traumatic event that somebody else is not. Have you ever felt this? How did you overcome it?
Cathy Bueti: Of course! I struggle with this a lot. It really hit me when my father died of cancer. That was difficult not only as a daughter but as a survivor of the disease. I have yet to overcome it.
Again as I said before regarding the fear of recurrence I don't think survivor guilt is something I will ever get over. I try the best I can to deal with those feelings and not let it consume me. The key to doing that for me is to stay creatively active.
I want to extend my gratitude to Cathy Bueti for her time to share with us her life's different stories and for agreeing to be interviewed for this site's breast cancer survivor stories.
For more stories about her, visit Cathy-Bueti.com.
And if you are interested to read or to inspire your mother, your sister or your friend with one of the compelling breast cancer survivor stories I have ever read, check out the book: Breastless in the City: A Young Woman's Story of Love, Loss, and Breast Cancer.
Are you a survivor of the disease? Or do you know someone who is? Be an inspiration by telling us your stories. You don't have to be one of the breast cancer survivor stories to join. The type of tumor is irrelevant. It's easy to do. How? Start sharing at the Cancer Survivors Stories section.
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