DR. LAUREN SCHNAPER
Dr. Lauren Schnaper is the Director of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC). She is internationally recognized for her clinical research on breast cancer in the elderly and her basic science research involving tumor markers in breast cancer. Dr. Schnaper was one of the first women trained as a general surgeon in Baltimore and has been honored throughout her career by numerous community groups and national associations.
DR. SHERI SLEZAK
Dr. Sheri Slezak is the chief of plastic surgery at the University of Maryland. She attended Harvard Medical School and did her general surgery training at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. She then completed a plastic surgery fellowship at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Slezak is board certified and is an officer of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. She is active in resident training and has authored an educational curriculum for plastic surgery.
Doris Doyle, a vibrant, self-described “girly girl” is in remission from breast cancer and wants to replace her breasts with fake ones because “the real ones tried to kill me." Doris’s journey is fraught with various complications reconstructing her breasts — the emergency implant removal due to an infection, and a DIEP flap that dies. But we see her strive to regain her sense of attractiveness through the care of the plastic surgeon and Latissimus Dorsi specialist, Dr. Steven Bonawitz, who miraculously restores her breasts.
Carol McGinnis, a self-declared amazon warrior, chooses to have a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction, because despite her fortitude, she never wants to go through chemotherapy or have mammograms anymore. Carol gives the anger that her diagnosis produces a positive spin and presents it at a family gathering. While Carol’s reconstruction also faces some obstacles such as a severe inflammation of the skin, she says “I am not my breasts,” and is able to come to terms with her own illness and her mother’s breast cancer — an experience that she had struggled with her whole life.
Shelia Westry finds a renewed faith and relationship with God through her battle with advanced breast cancer. Effusively warm, Shelia lights up every room she’s in—at her last radiation treatment when she rings the celebratory bell, the whole waiting room cheers for her. Shelia wants to remind people that it is okay to be seen fighting the illness, and assures her doctors, nurses, and fellow patients over and over that “whatever happens, God got me.” As the doctors prepare for their trip to Catania to take part in the festival of the patron saint of breast diseases, Agatha, Shelia’s unbreakable faith makes her into a modern Saint and martyr.
Debra Nelson is having a really hard time coming to terms with the new information regarding her treatment for DCIS, a non-invasive breast cancer. Did she need her mastectomy? Perhaps not if she had been diagnosed today. Debra calls into question her identity as a cancer survivor while still living with the loss of her breast—a constant reminder of what might not have been.