DENVER (CBS4) – When Sherri Goldstein learned she had breast cancer, she wasn’t too surprised. She’s raising awareness in an unconventional way.
“[My sisters and I] always thought one of us statistically might get it,” she said. “I think back to my mother and my grandmother who both had breast cancer. My mom died at the age of 34,” she said.
And Sherri recalls how difficult it was witnessing both of them battle the disease.
“For my mom, it was almost my entire childhood,” Sherri told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “It was painful, it was humiliating, it was sterile. My grandmother, she survived it, but she had physical deformities. There were barbaric procedures done to her. There was no such thing as reconstruction.”
After she was diagnosed in 2015, Sherri endured difficult chemotherapy treatments, and eventually a double mastectomy.
“It was so difficult to make that decision,” she said. “My grandmother, she had one breast removed and the other removed at a different time. She had awful scars and a lot of mobility issues.”
Unlike her grandmother’s cancer journey decades, Sherri did have the option for reconstruction.
“It’s a very personal choice, I have to say,” she said. “Some women choose not to, and that’s awesome. Women also choose to reconstruct and that’s awesome. For me, I needed to look and feel like my old self. That was going to help me feel like my old self and feel whole once again.”
The surgery was Sherri’s way, she explained, of taking back control of her body. She got her reconstructive surgery at UCHeath University of Colorado Hospital, but it didn’t stop at reconstruction.
“I wasn’t ready to feel like my cancer had won,” she said.
At 55 years old, Sherri entered a bodybuilding contest — and came out on top! She placed in all three categories she entered, including first in the 50+ masters.
“I felt so strong and so in control,” she said. “It was the first time I felt that way in many, many years.”
Now she hopes to inspire other survivors, especially those who may feel like they’ve lost a part of who they are.
“When you lose your breasts, you might feel like you lose your femininity,” Sherri said. “Again, it’s different for different women, but if that’s an issue, they don’t have to feel that way. We forget that we still do have some control, we just have to find the right frame of mind to bring that control back.”