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Best and Worst of Times

June 11, 2016

Dayna Bell's Story

At age 29, the last thing on my mind was cancer. I was busy planning my wedding and working as a speech pathologist. I had a faint family history, but nothing that caused me concern.

When I discovered the lump in my breast, I had it checked immediately. "It's nothing to worry about," my doctor from another hospital said. However, a few months later, it had grown bigger and so had my worries. I was rechecked by another physician and, only three days before my 30th birthday, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Suddenly, my world was turned upside down. I was supposed to get married in three months! Luckily, the physicians and staff at the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC started me on treatment right away.

I had a lumpectomy, eight weeks of chemotherapy and 36 daily radiation treatments. Dr. Paul Celano and his staff knew about my upcoming wedding and assured me that I would still be a blushing bride.

Two months before the wedding, I began losing my hair, so my fiancé shaved my head. In November 2007, we had our dream wedding in Disney World and, although I wore a wig, I still felt like a princess.

In March 2008, I completed my treatment. Instead of being excited, I felt scared. What if the cancer came back? Dr. Celano reassured me that I would be back for follow-up appointments, and that he was only a phone call away.

I did end up back at GBMC in February 2010, but this time for a much happier occasion - the birth of my daughter, Ellie. Having a child was something I always dreamed of, but I was unsure if it would ever happen after my diagnosis.

Now that I have a daughter, I got tested for the breast cancer gene at the Harvey Institute for Human Genetics at GBMC. I thought it was important to find out, not only for me, but for her. I tested positive for the gene and had a double mastectomy with reconstruction at GBMC in 2011. I am thankful to have made this decision and appreciate the support offered by the entire GBMC team.

GBMC saved my life and helped me bring a new life into the world. You can't ask for much more than that.
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