Two-Time Survivor Refuses ReconstructionC. Dixon
Amy Borneo has fought two different types of cancer in the last few years, but it hasn’t taken away her sense of self. Her body parts do not define her womanhood — though her plastic surgeon tried to tell her otherwise.
The mom of two was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015, and underwent a hysterectomy; she was declared cancer-free.
Then, two years later, at the age of 39, she got hit with another cancer diagnosis — this time, it was breast cancer.
Alarmed, and determined to fight with everything she had, Borneo asked for a double hysterectomy as well as an oopherectomy (ovary removal).
The only hiccup in her plan happened when discussing the mastectomy with her doctor.
He asked her if she wanted reconstruction. Borneo wasn’t interested unless she could get a 100% guarantee that she would have no health issues as a result. Getting well was her focus, not how she looked.
It wasn’t a promise her doctor could make, so he encouraged her to talk it over with her plastic surgeon.
The plastic surgeon shared his opinion; he was certain she would regret her decision if she chose not to get reconstruction. In fact, he told her that if she refused reconstruction now, she would be back in his office within a few years asking for it. After all, he told her, her breasts are what identified her as a woman.
Borneo was stunned — and undeterred. So reconstruction was the only way she could possibly feel womanly again? What did he know about being a woman?
“Not one second did I feel in the whole process, that if I was going to have breasts built and put on me that it was going to make me feel better in the end,” Borneo said. “I was so scared and worried about getting healthy and being better, that was my goal — not whether or not I was getting plastic surgery in the end.”
Borneo stuck to her convictions and refused reconstruction. Over the course of a year, she underwent surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy, and she continued to work and stay active in her kids’ extracurriculars.
Her community in Hanover, PA, stepped in to help Borneo and her husband get through her treatments: meals were made and delivered, a cleaning service was paid for, and Christmas gifts were bought by coworkers for her kids.
She also relied on a local health boutique that catered to women with cancer, received monetary aid from a local foundation called the Heather Baker Foundation, and support groups.
Borneo is now cancer-free — and has no regrets about her choice to go flat.