, Salem, MA

Fighting breast cancer

October 16, 2012

'I knew what I had to do and that was that'



She made the right decision — after the mastectomy, tests showed Temkin had the beginning stages of cancer in her left breast, too.

But reconstruction didn’t go as smoothly as she had hoped. Her surgeon used the TRAM flap method, in which a piece of the abdomen is cut and used the reconstruct the breast. But Temkin says her surgeon didn’t explain the surgery’s side effects, including abdominal weakness, or that she should refrain from lifting anything overhead. To make matters worse, Temkin said, the surgeon also told her the cosmetic effects couldn’t be fixed.

“It looked like I had a tire around my stomach,” she said. “So on top of the breast cancer and the surgery, it’s very depressing.”

At the urging of a friend, she scheduled a consultation with Dr. Beverly Shafer, a plastic surgeon in Beverly.

“She’s very, very compassionate,” said Temkin of Shafer. “She guaranteed me she could fix it.”

Temkin said Shafer fixed the stomach surgery, and everything fell into place from there.

Her father, daughter and close friends were extremely supportive throughout her recovery. Having people to talk to made a big difference for Temkin.

“I think the best thing, after a diagnosis, the best thing anybody can do is talk to people,” she said. “You can go online and there’s women online discussing it all the time.”

Today, Temkin is cancer free but still goes for blood work every six months. And the emotional reminders of the experience remain.

“It’s a tough process,” she said, especially since she was single at the time of her diagnosis. “I think it’s really hard for single women. You don’t want to get to that point where you get intimate. You’re self-conscious about things. It’s a tough choice.”

But those pieces have since fallen into place, too.

“I have a boyfriend who doesn’t care about what happened,” she said.

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Fighting breast cancer
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