by Paula Neal Mooney
"Why I Cut Off My Breasts"
That was the intriguing title of an Oprah show about Rene Syler, a CBS "The Early Show" co-anchor -- who I didn't even know was fired without warning Dec. 1.
Looks like those steps were ordered by the Lord, however.
Rene Syler had her CBS finale on Dec. 22 then underwent a bilateral mastectomy Jan. 9, followed by reconstructive breast surgery. Her final operation was March 8.
But the so-called controversial thing about 44-year-old Rene's case was that she didn't have cancer...yet.
"Only God can judge me..."
Watching the video of Rene Syler on Oprah, at first I was as judgmental as Job's friends over Rene's decision to have her breasts removed as a preemptive measure to cancer.
If only she trusted God more and didn't live with the fear of getting cancer, I thought to myself.
But learning more about how Rene Syler suffered for five years through cancer scares, abnormal mammograms, painful biopsies and lumpectomies -- mostly in the same breast that left her with mostly chest wall on her left side -- I grew more compassionate.
Both Rene Syler's mother and father had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she knew she could be next.
How dare I judge Rene, I realized, remembering that I wanted plastic surgery for reasons of vanity, not because of threats to my life.
Rene Syler's mastectomy
Oprah's show followed Rene Syler -- as she wanted them to -- throughout the night before her surgery to right before she went under the knife -- crying and asking her husband if she was doing the right thing.
"You're in good hands," her husband said. "You're in God's hands."
Rene Syler's New Book, New Breasts
Rene Syler chronicles her mastectomy in her new book, Good-Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting, which includes the chapter, "Double Whammy, or How to Lose Your Breasts and Your Job in Five Short Weeks."
Ultimately, Rene Syler did an amazing thing and gave the ultimate sacrifice, giving up her breasts to be blessed with a longer life -- time to be a wife and mother to her two children.
I'm glad Rene is happy now. She beamed: "I have teenage breasts now!"
Oprah used the back of her hand to test how perky Rene's new breast implants are. And oh wonderful of wonderful of goals for a woman: Rene Syler says she never has to wear a bra any longer.
But most wonderfully, Rene feels healthy and born anew.
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