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Judy Blume, the author of young-adult classics like Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Superfudge, is now a breast cancer survivor. The 74-year-old novelist was diagnosed with cancer this summer, shortly before she was scheduled to leave for an Italian vacation.
"We were supposed to leave for five weeks in Italy on July 29 -- four of those weeks would be spent at an artists' colony housed in a castle in Umbria where I was hoping to finish my new book," she explains in a lengthy message to her fans. "A castle! Sound too good to be true? Uh huh."
After undergoing a routine breast ultrasound and a follow-up biopsy in June, Blume discovered that she had a "very early," "very small," "well differentiated" tumor in one breast.
At first, she couldn't believe it. "Wait -- me?" Blume writes. "There’s no breast cancer in my family (recent extensive genetic testing shows no genetic connection). I haven’t eaten red meat in more than 30 years. I’ve never smoked, I exercise every day, forget alcohol -- it’s bad for my reflux -- I’ve been the same weight my whole adult life. How is this possible? Well, guess what -- it’s possible."
Determined to be proactive, the author consulted with friends who'd survived cancer and assembled a team of doctors. Given the option of a lumpectomy followed by radiation, or a single masectomy, she opted for the latter. She writes that she was sad to see one of her A-cup breasts go, because she'd "become quite fond of them" over the years. Nonetheless, she feels it was the right decision for her, and had the missing breast reconstructed with a silicone implant.
"Now it’s one month post surgery -- I'm still in NY and feeling stronger every day, walking a couple of miles in the park each morning and going out to early dinners with George," writes Blume, who is recuperating with the help of her husband. "I'm not working on my book yet (have just been given permission to type an hour at a time with arm exercises in between) but I'm thinking about getting back to it after Labor Day, kind of like starting school."
The author says she feels she's joined a sisterhood of breast cancer survivors, and urges other women to share their experience. "Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared," she shares. "When it comes to breast cancer you’re not alone, and scary though it is, there’s a network of amazing women to help you through it." Add Judy Blume to that list of amazing women.