When Jackie Fox was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, her doctor explained that DCIS is very early stage—so early it’s classified as stage zero. That was the good news. The bad news is it can become life-threatening if not treated, and treatment is the same as for more aggressive cancers. When Fox’s oncologist tried to reassure her by saying it’s not “real” cancer, she said, “It’s close enough. Somebody sign me up for the fake mastectomy!”
From Zero To Mastectomy grew from a series of essays Fox wrote for the Omaha World-Herald about her experience. It details her journey from attempts at breast-conserving surgery, to her aha! moment while trying to choose between mastectomy and radiation, to nuts and bolts of recovery and reconstruction. (Hint: Clothes shopping before you’ve regained your range of motion is not the best idea.) Fox came to think of it as an adventure, which G.K. Chesterton called “only an inconvenience rightly considered,” because cancer gave her so much more than it took away—gratitude for her husband, doctors, family and friends, and for unexpected moments of humor. It even became an unlikely but welcome muse. However, From Zero to Mastectomy is not just a “mammoir.” The final chapter is an interview with Fox’s “Dream Team”—her family doctor, general surgeon, oncologist and plastic surgeon, who share their insights and answer questions women ask most often.