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Cancer was the impetus for TV’s Walter White to “break bad” and set out on a path of darkness and self-destruction – and most real-life cancer survivors would never take things that far.
But many do understand the impulse to shake things up, and take a few risks, after their diagnosis.
Some climb mountains, some run marathons, some travel the world: The psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis causes many patients to redefine their priorities and push themselves beyond their pre-cancer boundaries.
Coming face to face with your own mortality will do that, psychologists say. And for women diagnosed with breast cancer -- who may have lost their breasts as well as hair, strength, sexuality and fertility -- the urge to be adventurous may be especially strong.
Lara Huffman, a 33-year-old Pittsburgh financial investigator, decided to jump out of a plane two days before her double mastectomy in May of 2012.
“I’d always wanted to go (skydiving) but I don’t think pre-cancer Lara would have done it in a million years,” she says.
Post-cancer Lara, however, was a different woman. Not only had she made it through the initial diagnosis in 2010, she’d endured a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, a chemo drug reaction that nearly killed her and the news that despite treatment, she’d still be losing her breasts.