Living your life under a microscope is just part of the job for most politicians, but having your breasts on display, so to speak, is another story. That’s basically what happened this summer, when Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum announced she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
“Everybody knows an awful lot about my body right now,” said Blum, who had a double mastectomy on July 28.
While some have criticized her for going back to work (part-time) only two days after her surgery, Blum said it made her feel better to keep going.
“I didn’t just feel like sitting still or lying down,” she said.
Part of her motivation for returning quickly was to let city employees know that she was going to be fine.
“Walking in here to me was a big statement, because of the fear that it would be a long haul,” Blum said from her City Hall office.
Luckily for Blum and for the city, she didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation treatment. She still sees her surgeon to check her progress regularly and is taking a drug to block potential cancer cells; otherwise she hasn’t missed too many beats.
Blum still thinks about the cancer every morning when she gets dressed.
“I have these little prosthesis I have to put in my bra, so I think about it, but not in a negative way. It’s almost a positive experience for me,” she said.
“I know I’m changed but it’s OK.”
She was also surprised and gratified by the community support.
Now Blum is working with a coalition of health-care groups to bring a mobile mammogram machine to Santa Barbara, to help ensure all women can have the same early detection. She also wants to help bring the discussion of breast cancer prevention and treatment even more out into the open.
And the fact that so many in the community are also worried about her health makes her ever more diligent.
“Now that I’ve had this they feel closer to me in some ways,” said Blum, noting that people come up and tell her their cancer stories. “People have a lot on their minds, so it’s OK if they want to share it with me.”
After all, she shared her story with them, and feels happy about that decision.
“The negative of being out there in the world publicly and bearing all is outweighed by all the positives,” said Blum.