How I lost my breast, got a haircut, and won a big prize
San Diego photographer Adriene Hughes, now 48, created a series of self-portraits chronicling her 2004 diagnosis with stage II estrogen-positive breast cancer and the treatment ordeal that followed. Adriene tells her story here in 12 photographs snapped at key points along her journey. Her complete photo-diary is at SoftServeGirl.com and in the book Archive of a Breast Cancer Survivor.
Looking for cancer
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had a full-body scan to see if my cancer had spread. They didn’t find anything.
So this is what an implant feels like
Before surgery, my plastic surgeon, James Chao, MD, and I looked at the implants that would be used for reconstruction. I’m holding the silicone implant; he has a temporary saline implant.
Where to cut
My oncology surgeon, Michael Bouvet, MD, put his initials on the tumor so they’d operate in the correct spot. Dr. Chao made the other markings.
After my mastectomy
I was still in a postsurgery anesthesia fog, with painkillers being pumped into me, when this picture was taken. I’d had my right breast removed and a temporary implant put in.
Look at all that hair!
I cut my hair before chemo. I thought it would be too much of a shock for me to go from having long hair to having no hair.
It was horrible, at first, to have the hair that has become so much a part of my identity taken from me. Funny how a thing like hair can make a person.
A true friend
I cried hard when my hair was cut, and my friend Karen held my hand. But an hour later, it wasn’t so bad. I felt free.
Chemotherapy, day 1
This is nurse Katie giving me my first injection of what was four months of chemotherapy. She told me my urine would turn red, and it did.
Chemo wiped me out
Four months of chemo made my hair fall out, and one of the drugs made me temporarily lose feeling in my extremities. Sleeping was the best way to get through the day. Here I am with my boyfriend’s dog, Peso.
And then one day, I was ready to get moving
I got this survivor medal for being in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K. My teammate, Anne Colburn, and I raised $940.
A year later
The screen shows the results of my digital mammogram one year after my initial breast cancer diagnosis. I had a gut feeling everything was going to be good, which it was.
Photo: Adriene Hughes (all)
The new me
Here I am after reconstruction, 16 months after the first surgery. I had silicone implants in both breasts so they would look the same.