Surviving Cancer: The Quest to Conceive

Intent on recovering and moving forward with her life, Occhicone decided to have only radiation, and to undergo a lumpectomy. Shortly after her first operation, she and her boyfriend Michael became engaged and started planning for an August wedding. But in May, doctors found another lump, this one in her right breast.

“The tests were negative,” said Occhicone. “While we were planning the wedding we thought that maybe I should have both breasts removed, but it was just a thought. We wanted to start having children by the end of the year, so we knew I didn’t want chemo.”

Occhicone and her fiancee married in August, took a long honeymoon, and even stopped using birth control with the hopes of conceiving quickly. “We had a great wedding, and after everything calmed down we decided to get a second opinion about my right breast,” she said. “I went for a second opinion in early October. The doctor told me that the lump in my right breast that was diagnosed as benign was in fact cancerous. So now I was faced with cancer in both breasts.”

Strongly opposed to chemotherapy and wedded to the idea of having children, Occhicone decided to rid her body of the cancer through the surgical removal of both her breasts. This past fall, she underwent a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, her fourth operation in one year.

“I’m just glad I didn’t have to go through chemo,” said Occhicone, who is recovering and waiting for her fifth operation to implant artificial breasts. “That was my biggest fear, and I am just so happy I didn’t have to go through that.”

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