For decades, women who successfully battled breast cancer often were left disfigured, with most of their breasts cut off in an effort to remove any trace of a tumor. The idea was “you have to cut out as much as possible, they took the lymph nodes, all of the chest muscles,” Washburn said.

“In the ’70s, the attitude was ‘women don’t care, they just want to be cancer free,'” she said. “No, they care — we all care.”

The scars were often deep, both physical and emotional, with some women dreading the probable surgical outcome almost as much as the possibility of dying from cancer.

But new surgical techniques, and improvements in reconstruction, have made those horror stories a thing of the past.