Always a Silver Lining!
Geri Bell believes that life is a choice: how we live it, how we deal with it, how we value it.
In 2000, Geri was diagnosed with Stage I Breast Cancer when she was 30. Weighing the risks of chemotherapy, elective surgeries, and breakthrough cancer treatment, Geri remained undeterred. "My choice was not to be all depressed and sad about it. I did not want to bury myself. I wanted to be a happy person... inside and out."
"I do have bad days absolutely and everybody is entitled to those." A major part of that coping process is constant vigilance to her health. That lifestyle began before her first diagnosis and helped to save her life. Geri did not experience nausea associated with chemo but she did lose her hair. She was able to find realistic wigs and she received endless compliments when she wore her wigs, something she never experienced with her natural hair. "Strangers would ask me where I had my hair done. Pleased but embarrassed, I'd tell them I had it done out of town."
In 2006, Geri was faced with a second diagnosis of Breast Cancer and this time she had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery with mature reassurance. "I do not want anyone to feel sad or bad for me, because, as all of you know, Breast Cancer is a part of who I am. I am looking at this diagnosis and surgery with a silver lining: I get a FREE BOOB JOB!"
Because she still wants children, Geri decided to postpone her chemotherapy following her double mastectomy in order to harvest her eggs and freeze them for future fertilization. When her harvesting is over she will have an elective oopherectomy and begin chemotherapy.
Following all of these procedures, Geri's chances of a recurrence of cancer have been decreased dramatically. Over the past few years, Geri has become extremely active with The American Cancer Society not only as a Board Member, but also as the Chairperson for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Geri is a true inspiration to all women young and old who are faced with Breast Cancer.
Geri has been the South Palm Beach Unit's - Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Committee Chairperson for the 2005 & 2006 events. Geri will continue to hold this chair position in 2007. Geri is also an active Board Member for the South Palm Beach Unit of the American Cancer Society. --Geri Bell, Ft Lauderdale, FL
I was so excited to attend my grand daughter's 7th birthday party! I decided at the last minute to travel to Michigan in January to surprise her! I arrived in Michigan, and just as I began opening the front door of my sons house, my cell phone rang; "Boca Raton Community Hospital" was in the caller ID. When I took the call and heard my biopsy came back, Breast Cancer, I held onto the door knob and cried and cried. There was no enjoying the weekend, for as much as I tried to have on my happy face. I could not wait to return to Florida and begin the process of determining what to do next.
After meeting with my breast surgeon, Dr. Porterfield, we decided on a left breast mastectomy. I attended the Multi Modality Clinic at the hospital, and inquired about reconstruction. I then scheduled an appointment with Dr. Rosenthal. He is truly Dr. Miracle Man. My surgery took over 5 hours, but when I woke up, I was a total woman the tram flap reconstruction was complete. Recovery was slow and painful. I found myself in a very dark place for the first time in my life.
With seven children, it's hard to believe none of our family live in Florida; therefore, my husband was my caregiver. He did an outstanding job. I certainly owe my turnaround to him. After several weeks, my husband encouraged me to get up and get moving. I begin to exercise, in the form of walking. I began with just a few short steps to the car, then further and further, and pretty soon I realized I was walking three miles each day. Now, I am running 3 miles each day!
Yes, I am a survivor, it is a slow and tenuous process, but you must live each day with a positive attitude, not telling yourself this is the first day of the rest of my life, but asking yourself, how would I live this day if it were the last day of my life. --Carolann Boos, Highland Beach, FL
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Copyright 2007 © American Cancer Society, Inc.