Having just concluded Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we thought it was only fitting that we interviewed a handful of our patients who have come to us recently for reconstructive surgery following breast cancer operations.
Their experiences are powerful examples of the importance of getting checked regularly for breast cancer. They demonstrate how your body post-cancer can be just as beautiful as before.
Here is the first interview with “Susan” (not her real name):
“I found out I had breast cancer in January 2011. One month later, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, and by March I had begun chemotherapy and radiation.
My oncologist at Jordan Hospital referred me to Dr. Delia for my reconstructive surgery. I met with him right away. I told him I wanted to have my reconstructive surgery done before I went through radiation, but he advised me to wait so that the radiation didn’t interfere. In the meantime, he put tissue expanders where my breasts had been. (These were later removed when I got my silicone implants.)
I had to do some research when I first found out I had cancer, since I didn’t know much about it. But I’m the type that doesn’t really want to know all the ins and outs about what needs to be done – I just want you to do it. Dr. Delia was very professional, caring, and knowledgeable. He explained as much as I needed to know, but I felt comfortable enough with him right away that I knew he’d take good care of me, so I didn’t feel the need to ask as many questions.
I finally had my reconstructive surgery in April 2010, and it went fine. The recovery was very long and painful, but that’s only normal.
All of my follow-up visits with Dr. Delia went quite well, and he continued to reassure me that he’d take good care of me. I did seem a little lopsided at first and was afraid I’d never look normal again, so I asked Dr. Delia if he could fix the left side to match the right rather than grafting skin from my back. He said that would be fine – he was very accommodating.
Today, in November 2011, I feel fantastic. My skin is still very tight from the radiation, especially because I had some lymph nodes involved. Also, I’ve been thrown into early menopause (with all the associated weight gain and hot flashes). But I’m starting to look and feel like a regular woman again. My breasts look better now than before I had cancer!
Dr. Delia’s been fantastic throughout the entire process. I can’t recommend him enough! Thank you!
One last comment – I want to stress to all women out there how important it is to go with your gut and listen to your body. I had a different doctor at the time when I was diagnosed with cancer. He didn’t want to send me for a mammogram because I was so young. But I pushed and pushed until he decided to let me get one. It’s a good thing, because I would have been in an entirely different situation today if I had listened to him and waited!”