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Woman Awarded in Mastectomy Case

March 26, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ A photographer whose mastectomy-scarred chest appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine was awarded $2.2 million by a jury that concluded her surgery was unnecessary.

JoAnne Motichka, 45, known professionally as ``Matuschka,″ said her doctor never told her she had the option of having her tumor removed rather than her entire breast.

``He told me I had more cancer than I had,″ Matuschka said. ``He said I had intraductal carcinoma and needed a mastectomy immediately. There was no discussion of any other treatment possibility.″

The jury awarded Matuschka $780,000 on Thursday for past pain and suffering and $1.4 million for future pain and suffering. A lawyer for Dr. Hiram S. Cody said the verdict would be appealed.

Matuschka’s single mastectomy was performed by Cody in 1991 after she found a malignant lump. She later learned that a lumpectomy, surgery in which only the cancerous lump is removed, might have been sufficient.

Cody’s lawyer argued that the doctor told Matuschka enough for her to make an informed decision.

The experience turned Matuschka, who had been a model earlier in her working life, into an activist for breast cancer awareness. She became famous for her graphic sculptures and self-portraits, including the award-winning photograph of her surgically mutilated chest that appeared on the Times’ magazine on Aug. 13, 1993.

``Society needs to become more comfortable with women who’ve undergone mastectomies,″ Matuschka said. ``They shouldn’t be shunned as freaks.″

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