Hollywood superstar Suzanne Somers has played many roles in her long career: television actress, fitness-product pitchwoman, and best-selling author. But with her new book, Somers has become something else entirely: a medical pioneer.
In “Bombshell: Explosive Medical Secrets That Will Define Aging” (Crown Archetype, $26), the “Three’s Company” star reveals her experiences as a “human guinea pig” for a ground-breaking new stem-cell procedure that allowed her to rebuild the breast she lost to cancer.
The book, to be released May 8, also explores additional cutting-edge health and anti-aging techniques, from the latest discoveries in medical science to alternative therapies. She devotes entire chapters to the development of “Fantastic Voyage”-like micro “nanorobots” that will one day travel through the bloodstream to target disease, “bio-identical” hormone replacement therapy, unconventional treatments for cancer and heart disease, and up-and-coming genetic therapies that may lengthen life.
But it’s the passages in “Bombshell” that deal with the 65-year-old’s personal experiences with the stem-cell treatments for her breast cancer that are the most compelling.
“This book is meant to blow your mind with the possibilities for your future and present health,” she writes. “A lot of the information in this book is outside the box. The new stuff is not what shows up from most orthodox medical doctors, but here is presented by cutting-edge Western-trained doctors, scientists and professionals … the best of the best.”
In a series of profiles and interviews with physicians, researchers and alternative-medicine practitioners, Somers spotlights techniques that boost health through lifestyle changes, diet, supplements, exercise plans, and medical procedures.
Among the people she profiles is Dr. Joel Aronowitz, the doctor who performed her breast procedure using stem cells taken from her own tissues.
“Because the procedure is both personal to me and so revolutionary, it is Bombshell No. 1,” Somers writes. “This incredible advancement is available right now for women who can qualify for this clinical trial. It is my hope that with the conclusion of this trial, it will eventually be possible to have this procedure covered by insurance and made the standard of care.”
As she detailed to Newsmax Health in an exclusive interview about her stem-cell treatment, Somers discusses her breast cancer ordeal and how she made herself “whole again” by opting for the cutting-edge procedure.
Her story is both a compelling tale of her harrowing personal journey as a breast cancer survivor and a striking example of how stem-cell research is becoming a clinical reality. She told Newsmax Health she decided to tell her story to bring wider attention to the procedure – making it the focus of the first installment of her new Internet talk show “Suzanne Somers Breaking Through” at Suzannesomers.com.
“I was a human guinea pig because I was the virgin operation with Dr. Joel Aronowitz,” she said. “I cannot tell you what a thrill it is to look down and see myself whole again.
“I’ve had a hard time keeping my clothes on it looks so nice.”
Somers was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, which she believes was caused by hormones and birth control pills she took for more than two decades. She underwent a lumpectomy to remove the tumor, followed by radiation, but refused to have the conventional reconstruction surgery, hoping medical research would lead to a better way to restore her body.
“I had thought it through,” she writes in her book. “I weighed the pros and cons. I took responsibility for my life. This was my choice, and I would deal with the consequences, good or bad.”
Although Somers underwent a lumpectomy, and not a mastectomy, her tumor was so large and deep the surgeons had to remove most of her breast.
“Getting dressed became a challenge,” she writes, “and frankly, as a woman with a sexy image in the public arena, it was rather demoralizing.”
She also experienced a lot of pain: “As someone who enjoys sex, I didn’t find having painful breasts conducive to that activity. In time, I was always in pain. Something had to be done.”
The doctors gave her two options: The first option was implants, and the second was a type of breast-reconstruction surgery called a “TRAM flap,” where a woman’s own body fat, skin and muscle are used to rebuild her breast. Somers didn’t like either option. So she decided to wait for something better to come along.
Last summer, that wait ended when she became the first American woman to undergo a pioneering new procedure — stem-cell breast reconstruction — at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, performed by Dr. Aronowitz.
The procedure itself is complex, but Somers explains – in simple language – the key elements of the technique in her book.
“In layperson’s terms, the surgical team removed the fat from my stomach by liposuction (boo hoo, hated to see that go!), then they took that fat and spun it at supersonic speed, separating it into three layers (like mousse),” she writes.
The stem cells were then isolated from the fat cells so doctors could “clean” them and identify the strongest ones, she said. The stem cells were then injected “with a ‘turkey baster’ (my term)” into her breast, where they promoted the regrowth of her breast tissue.
“Like a miracle,” she writes, “fat was removed from my abdomen to provide the stem cells that were then sorted in a high-technology procedure to extract the strongest and largest amounts of stem cells to be reinjected into my breast … So the whole procedure is a win-win-win; you get a new, real breast, full feeling is restored, plus you get rid of unwanted fat!”
Today, she says her new breast is like the one she had before her cancer.
“Now I look down where once there had been no breast and it is beautiful … high and real and firm, soft and unscarred,” she writes. “Talk about reversing aging! My breasts now look like they are those of a young woman. I can’t tell you how this has positively affected me psychologically.”
She hopes the procedure may also one day provide an alternative to conventional breast implants and be used in other ways. For instance, her doctor used some of her banked stem cells to smooth the wrinkles in her neck — “giving me, in essence, a stem-cell neck lift using my banked stem cells,” she writes.
“The future is so clearly in nanotechnology and stem cells, and I actually feel very proud that I might have opened this door a crack to stem-cell protocols,” she told Newsmax Health.