Stories about breast cancer that can inspire and inform

Blog  |  Newsroom

Ellyn’s Story: Flat Please. Hold the Shame.

Ellyn Winters-Robinson found out she had breast cancer earlier this year. Ellyn did not realize she could be at risk for breast cancer because she does not have a family history. This is her story in her own words.

I was diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) progesterone receptor-positive (PR+) breast cancer on March 10, 2022. The diagnosis was a surprise. There is no history of breast cancer in my family. After further investigation and a breast MRI, it was determined the cancer was multi-focal with the tumors distributed in such a way that a mastectomy was the best option.

In talking with a friend, I was introduced to aesthetic flat closure. The idea of a single surgery, a more rapid healing process and fewer risks of complications appealed to me. After two plus years of the COVID 19 pandemic, I wanted to move on with my life.

I brought the idea of a double mastectomy with flat closure back to my surgeon and, fortunately, he was very supportive of my decision and extremely accomplished at oncoplastic techniques. I did a lot of mental preparation for looking at my new breastless body after surgery, and I can say I have no regrets about my decision and quite like my new flat profile.

Pathology showed small deposits of cancer in my sentinel nodes as well, and so I have also undergone four rounds of chemotherapy and 15 rounds of radiation therapy. I’m also on medication that I will continue for at least five years.

I began my cancer journey in very good health. I was fit and strong and so I was able to recover from surgery very quickly with no complications, and I have weathered chemo very easily, with minimal side effects.

If I were to give any one piece of advice to someone going through this, it would be to focus on becoming as healthy as you can be. One never knows what health crisis might come your way. When your cup is full, you have more to draw upon.

It may seem strange, but breast cancer has uncovered strengths and resilience I didn’t know I had, and it has made me grateful for the love and support of family and friends. I have learned I am far tougher, far more powerful than I would have imagined.

I have also met the very best people on this journey, from health care workers to survivors who have shown me compassion, care and kindness. I will be forever grateful to them and commit to paying it forward as I move beyond my treatment phase and become a survivor/thriver.

I have also become a passionate advocate for more inclusion and representation of women with breast cancer in brand marketing, and for more empowerment of women on their health care journey, and I intend to continue to do advocacy work in this area.

Click here to learn more about going flat and here to learn more about breast cancer risk.

Statements and opinions expressed are that of the individual and do not express the views or opinions of Susan G. Komen. This information is being provided for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Persons with breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider with specific questions or concerns about their treatment.