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Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 1:26pm

Girlfriend Advice For Breast Cancer Survival

Updated: 1 year ago.
Suzan Rivers talks breast cancer survival. (photo: L.Fleming for GPB News)

From the White House to the NFL, the color pink has been everywhere this October to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There have been rallies for the cure, including one in Macon.

And there have been the stories shared by survivors like Suzan Rivers.

Rivers is author of the new book Dear Girlfriend, A Handheld Walk Through Breast Cancer.

Recently we settled into some comfy chairs in the front parlor of her classical revival home, off of a coble stoned road in Macon. Over coffee she tells her story.

Fleming: When were you first diagnosed?

Rivers: I was diagnosed two weeks before Christmas in 2008. And I had to put on a party for the entire neighborhood the day after I was diagnosed. So, you know, you gotta do what you gotta do! So I said, well…we’re just going to try and keep our sense of humor here and go forward.

Fleming: You say in your case everything that could go wrong, did. 14 surgeries, a recurrence two years later, chemo, radiation, hospital staph infection. And perhaps worst of all you say, your hair fell out.

Rivers: (laughter.) Yes! The day it fell out, I called my doctor crying. The doctor decided to call in a prescription for Xanax to calm my nerves. So I went to the pharmacy and when I got up to the counter and I said my doctor sent in a prescription for a little Xanax to calm me down because I’m having a bad day. The pharmacist said, “well I’m sorry, but I can’t fill anymore prescriptions today because the server just went down.” So I stood there a second, tapping my foot, trying to figure out what to do. Suddenly I reached up, grabbed a big glob of my hair and I yanked it out from the top of my head! This woman had no idea what in the world was going on! She must have thought It’s a maniac! And I just shook this handful of hair at her and said I really need that Xanax! I want it, I want it, right now! Well…. I’m happy to report I got it.

Fleming: And then there was the removal of your breasts.

Rivers: I wanna tell you something if you are worried about the way you are going to look and you’re afraid to go to the doctor if you have a lump because you are afraid of losing your breast let me tell you something honey…they can put those things back better than they ever looked before.

Fleming: At the end of each chapter of the book there is some girlfriend advice. One piece of advice is to use your time wisely.

Rivers: We waste so much time! If there’s something you want to do then you need to do it. Don’t put it off. Before I got cancer I always wanted to be a writer. I was a librarian and I enjoyed books, but when I went through cancer and I put this book together I thought this is what I want to do with my life, whether I live another year or another 30 years.

Fleming: The other piece of advice I love is to keep on dancing!

Rivers: Yes! I used to drag my husband into the living room, put on 60s rock and roll classics or 70s music and dance. When you are all alone at home and the fear of the future starts to overwhelm you, turn up your music as loud as you can and dance and dance until you drop. It will make you feel so much better.

Suzan Rivers is the author of Dear Girlfriend, A Handheld Walk Through Breast Cancer. She blogs at www.suzanrivers.blogspot.com

(Read some of the book below)

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