Wanda Sykes Makes Brave Breast Cancer Decision

wanda sykesWanda Sykes is visiting Ellen on Monday but the biggest news from the interview is already out: The 47-year-old stand-up comedian reveals that she battled breast cancer back in February. And until now she's been quiet about it.

As she explains to Ellen DeGeneres, Sykes wasn't sure if she should speak about it publicly or not:


Should I talk about it? How many things could I have? You know black, and you know, lesbian. I can't be the poster child for everything. And you know at least with the LGBT issues, we get a parade and float and it's a party, but I was real hesitant about doing this because I hate walking. I gotta lot of walks coming up.

I have to say I really admire Sykes. Not because she's made the decision to speak publicly and bring attention to breast cancer issues, but because of the brave decision she made regarding her own treatment.

Sykes opted to have a bilateral mastectomy.

That's a hard choice to make, especially for someone who was so well endowed and also for someone whose cancer was "only" at Stage 0. Sykes says she found out she had cancer when she went in for a breast reduction. "I had real big boobs and I just got tired of knocking over stuff," she joked to Ellen. But in examining her breast pathology the doctors discovered she had Stage 0 cancer, which means it wasn't as bad as it could have been ... yet. Rather than having breast exams and mammograms every 3 months, Sykes opted for the mastectomy. She now has zero chance of getting breast cancer, which runs in her family.

Breast cancer runs in my family too, and for me the issue has always been not whether I'll get it, but when. It could be tomorrow or next month or next year. Sometimes it seems like I'm just waiting. I worry because I don't want my little girl to have to experience having a sick mom. I worry because I don't want to die and leave her motherless. At the same time I don't know if I could just cut them off. I understand the logic -- just get rid of them and be healthy and worry free. No more wondering when. But the decision isn't quite as easy as it seems and there are many women who are beyond Stage 0 breast cancer who opt for chemotherapy or radiation or other alternative treatments because losing their breasts just isn't an option.

My breasts are part of my body and it would be strange it fhey weren't there. They make me feel like a woman. And more importantly, a mom -- they fed my daughter for 2 1/2 years. It's ironic that the very things that nourished her could ultimately be the things that kill me.

I don't think I could walk into a doctor's office right now and ask for a mastectomy "just to be safe" and I'm not sure if I could do it even at Stage 0 or beyond. But if and when that scary day does come, I know it's a decision I might be forced to make. I'm just glad it's not one that I have to make yet.


Watch Sykes talking about her diagnosis and treatment on Ellen:


What do you think of Sykes' decision to have a double mastectomy at Stage 0 cancer? Is it a decision you could make?


Image via greginhollywood/Flickr

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