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Why More Women Are Choosing Double Mastectomies

Wed, 03/13/2013 - 9:22am
Allison Gilbert

Ten months ago, Vanessa Thiemann lay in bed unable to sleep.

The 42-year-old single mother of two had a sinus infection, and the pain was making her restless. She tried getting comfortable on her left side, then her right, but she ended up staring at the ceiling in complete darkness, her left hand coming to rest on her chest.

It was at that moment her fingers brushed a tiny knob under her skin.

"I felt a rock-hard lump next to my nipple," Thiemann recalls. "I just knew at that moment I had cancer."

Thiemann did have cancer. And while her breast surgeon assured her the tumor was isolated to her right breast, and she knew she had no family history of the disease, Thiemann opted for a double mastectomy.

"It was important to me to remove both breasts," she says. "I knew that if I kept my other breast, I would obsess over it, and I'd always worry that cancer would develop there, too."

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