"I Was Miserable": Wanda Sykes On Her All-Consuming Feelings Following Double Mastectomy
March 11, 2019 11:55 By Fabiosa
When it comes to breast cancer treatment options, the safest choice may be the most difficult one to make.
Wanda Sykes, who was diagnosed with the disease back in 2011, chose the safest option and has no regrets.
The comedienne wants other women to know that they have options, too and urges everyone to get checked.
Wanda’s cancer treatment journey
In February 2011, Wanda had breast reduction surgery. Tissue samples were sent to the lab, which is a standard procedure, and the test revealed something she never expected to hear.
Wanda’s doctor called to inform her she had breast cancer, but quickly added that she would be fine, as it was DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), a non-invasive, stage-zero breast cancer.
Despite her excellent prognosis, Wanda was shaken when she heard the news. She told People about her diagnosis:
My first thought was, “Really? Me, breast cancer?” I just couldn’t believe it.
Wanda had two main treatment options. One was to take an oral drug and have herself checked every three months to see if there are improvements, and another one was radical, but also, safer – double mastectomy.
Wanda chose the second option, as she wanted to minimize her recurrence risk. She and her wife, Alex, have twins who were only two years old at the time, so Wanda didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
Knowing she made the right choice for herself and her family didn’t make post-surgery recovery easier. Speaking to People, Wanda recalled looking at her chest and feeling terrible:
Back at home I was miserable. Every day I had to change the bandages and look at it, and it was not pretty at all. I was getting mad, depressed; I went through this range of emotions. I kept asking, “When am I going to feel like myself again?” I wanted my life back.
But, before long, Wanda started to get used to her new body. Also, she knew that a dramatically reduced risk of recurrence outweighed whatever negative emotions she was feeling at the time. She told People:
I made my decision because I love life and I know I’m blessed. The kids are also a huge part because you want to be around for them. My scars? I barely see them. I feel whole; I really do. Because every day, I get to say, “There’s no cancer.” I’m healthy, and that’s beautiful.
Tackling cancer with humor
In Wanda’s comedy, no topics are off the table. After her scary experience, she incorporated the topic of breast cancer into her routines.
In an interview with Esquire, the comedian said:
I talk about the breast cancer because I want women—and everyone—to stay on top of things and get checked. I know how scary it can be. When I dealt with it I was like, "Oh my God." And I have so many other friends who have gone through it or have suffered a loss. So I want to talk about it so it would encourage the audience to get checked, but also to have a little levity where they can laugh about it and know, "It's a challenge, but I'll get through it."
Wanda is such an inspiring and brave woman! Props to her for telling it like it is for the good of others.