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Photographer diagnosed with breast cancer after seeing a shadow on her chest in a selfie

Mother of two Jen Rozenbaum has revealed how a quick selfie led to her breast cancer diagnosis after routine mammograms showed no evidence of the disease

Mother of two Jen Rozenbaum has revealed how a quick selfie led to her breast cancer diagnosis after routine mammograms showed no evidence of the disease

A mother of two has revealed how a selfie led to her breast cancer diagnosis after routine mammograms showed no evidence of the disease.

Professional photographer Jen Rozenbaum was concerned after seeing a shadow on her chest while snapping a quick photo before a night out in April 2017.

However, the busy mom from Long Island in the US was already scheduled for a routine breast check in July, so she didn’t get it checked.

By the time the appointment rolled around, Jen, then 41, felt as if she had “pulled a muscle” in her chest.

Despite the high breast cancer rate on Long Island and the mysterious shadow, Jen wasn’t too worried, as she couldn’t feel any hard lumps. But now she knows that breast cancer doesn’t always present itself that way.

Busy mom from Long Island, US, was already scheduled for a routine breast check in July, so didn't get the 'shadow' checked out

Busy mom from Long Island, US, was already scheduled for a routine breast check in July, so didn't get the 'shadow' checked out

Busy mom from Long Island, US, was already scheduled for a routine breast check in July, so didn’t get the ‘shadow’ checked out

At first, the medical technicians couldn’t find anything abnormal during her checkup, but when Jen insisted that they check her sore muscle, a terrifying “black hole” appeared on the screen.

The doctor on duty did a biopsy, but warned Jen to take care of her business immediately.

“He told me he saw a lot of things and didn’t have to wait for the results to know we were dealing with cancer,” she said.

Jen has had four major surgeries since her diagnosis, including a double mastectomy, ovarian removal, and breast reconstruction

Jen has had four major surgeries since her diagnosis, including a double mastectomy, ovarian removal, and breast reconstruction

Jen has had four major surgeries since her diagnosis, including a double mastectomy, ovarian removal, and breast reconstruction

Jen said she remembers being too busy with her kids to die - so she fought the disease with everything she had

Jen said she remembers being too busy with her kids to die - so she fought the disease with everything she had

Jen said she remembers being too busy with her kids to die – so she fought the disease with everything she had

It’s been four years since the doctor’s fears were confirmed and Jen has battled through a double mastectomy, hysterectomy and breast reconstruction, as well as seemingly endless rounds of chemotherapy and a divorce.

She recalls feeling “absolutely leveled” emotionally, physically and spiritually at some points and could barely get off the couch after chemo sessions.

“This would terrify my children who would then become more demanding, they would want a glass of water or that I would pick them up from school,” she said.

Jen said her kids helped a lot while she was battling cancer, and keeping her busy took some anxiety out of the situation.

“It was like they thought if I could get up and do these little things, I shouldn’t be too sick, not die,” she said.

Now she wants to normalize the body after cancer and help women who have undergone life-saving surgery to feel good about themselves.

Now she wants to normalize the body after cancer and help women who have undergone life-saving surgery to feel good about themselves.

Now she wants to normalize the body after cancer and help women who have undergone life-saving surgery to feel good about themselves.

Before going through cancer, Jen assumed it would do her good to have her breasts and ovaries removed if she was ever diagnosed.

And despite immediately agreeing to a double mastectomy, she said she was unprepared for the emotional impact that followed.

Her surgeon took a picture for her after the double mastectomy, which happened days before her 42nd birthday.

“When I saw the photo, I thought it was all bad**,” she said.

“And when you go through it, it’s like — yes, I kicked cancer out, I’m in control here.”

Jen reveals what you should NEVER say to a woman with breast cancer:

1 – My (mother, cousin, sister) had breast cancer and died/survived

2 – My (insert loved one) is an oncologist and we think you should not do chemotherapy

3 – You should switch to a vegan diet

4 – If I had cancer I would remove my breasts without thinking about it

5 – Don’t worry, you are going to beat this and run a marathon one day. (Jen said this is toxic positivity and she’s never had any interest in running)

Jen reveals what to say and do to help a woman with cancer:

1 – Instead of asking if you should make dinners, just make them and tell them you deliver them, don’t give them a choice

2 – Ask if they want to talk about cancer, and if not, what do they want to talk about?

3 – Say ‘I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you’

“It wasn’t until months later, when I had time to process it all, that I thought, ‘Did I really cut my breasts off?'”

She described the sudden realization as a ‘what the hell just happened’ moment.

“I don’t think I was trained enough at the time to make the decisions, everything felt so rushed, I was diagnosed with cancer and days later I said yes to major surgery,” she said.

Jen has shared honest photos that show her journey and want to help people diagnosed with cancer

Jen has shared honest photos that show her journey and want to help people diagnosed with cancer

Jen has shared honest photos that show her journey and want to help people diagnosed with cancer

There was no time to process each step as it happened.

‘I remember thinking, ‘Am I going to die? I don’t have time to die, school starts again in September, I have to get the kids ready.”

She is now working to “normalize” bodies after breast cancer surgery, creating photos that help survivors feel “sexy” and embrace their femininity.

She also uses her Instagram to help people process their own breast cancer journey and teach their loved ones how to act, including what to say and what not to say.

Jen, who recently had her ovaries removed, says she is emotionally and physically exhausted after the diagnosis and several treatments.

This photo was taken by Jen of a young mother who opted for reconstruction after her double mastectomy, proving that women can still be feminine after surgery

This photo was taken by Jen of a young mother who opted for reconstruction after her double mastectomy, proving that women can still be feminine after surgery

This photo was taken by Jen of a young mother who opted for reconstruction after her double mastectomy, proving that women can still be feminine after surgery

She wants to help cancer survivors reconnect with their sensuality after treatment

She wants to help cancer survivors reconnect with their sensuality after treatment

She wants to help cancer survivors reconnect with their sensuality after treatment

“On the one hand, we think we should be happy once we’ve been treated, that we should dive back into real life, but the truth is, you never feel the same as you used to,” she said.

“My divorce is part of the post-cancer cleanup — and it’s proof that when you go through something like cancer, the perspective changes and life is viewed in a different way.”

Now 46, single and going through the menopause on chemical help, Jen says she’s looking forward to getting stronger so she can spend time with her kids.

She also wants to continue photographing women going through the different stages of breast cancer to remind them that they can always be beautiful.

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