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From: Seminole, Florida
Patient Type: Delayed Breast Reconstruction
Patient History: Double Mastectomy / Delayed Post-Radiation Bilateral Reconstruction
5 / 5 stars
I was considering reconstruction after a bilateral mastectomies, and the reconstructions that were offered, I didn't think were particularly something I was gonna do. But I wanted to investigate it to make a decisive decision on whether I was gonna do something or not. And then I happened on his website and I started reviewing the information for about three, four months before I ever made the appointment. I did a lot of reading on it, and I've work in the medical field myself since 1974 and it made sense. I came down and met him, drove about four and a half hours to get here from Southern Florida.
Initially, it was 1999, I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma. Stage II. I did two lumpectomies, 28 axillary nodes were removed, I had, I think about four or five months of chemo. And I had 29 treatments of radiation. And then I did well up until 2008; I had a reoccurrence in the other side. And, actually, the hospital I had been going to was a cancer research hospital. They've done great things, you know, in caring for me over this time and stuff, but my body presented as I was a Stage IV breast cancer; that it had invaded both lungs and my spleen and they told me I had about two years to live.
And I promptly told them that I didn't think they were correct on that and I proceeded to prove them wrong. So I continue to live; I'm cancer-free. I did have bilateral mastectomies because I was BRCA positive. And I had the hysterectomy and I had my spleen removed and I had a lot of surgery and stuff. And, you know, like I said, I was trying to come to a decision of whether I wanted to have reconstruction at this point in my life. I have four adorable grandchildren, a husband of 37 years, didn't really need to do this other than self-image, I guess, and I've never been one to be concerned about that as far as that's not my "self." You know: I'm happy with myself regardless of where I'm at.
I pretty much ruled out the other possibilities of the surgeries that were available, from that other surgery. And it's very traumatic thing; it was 10 hours of anesthesia. That's a lot to ask your body after you've gone through all the surgeries I've already done. For what? You know. So, this had a lot more bonus than negative to me. I felt like, you know, you put on a lot of weight when you go through the chemo and all the things that I've had to do. Because the last time I was on chemo for six months straight, every week. And so a lot of steroids; a lot of weight gain. And, basically at this point, he's removing all of that and transferring it and it's a win-win.
So, I've been real happy with how it's going. I'm in the process. I've had two procedures done. Physically, I feel better about myself. Because I've seen lot of women that have had this done and they've got great results. And they're very happy. Way happier than what I see of the people that have gone through these horrendous surgeries. So, this was the right decision for me. I do have sensation. Which, you do lose that if you have the other surgeries, because they cut all the nerves. And I do have sensation, so that's a plus. You wear the BRAVA system. I get most of my wear time in during the day and it goes under clothes just fine.
You know, there's not a; you do have to dedicate yourself to it. You have to follow the plan and wear the thing. You can't be taking it off and thinking of reasons that you can't do it. You have to stick to it. And it's; you don't do it all that long, and if you look at the big picture, you're doing it for, say, a month; six weeks at the most. And then you have the procedure. And then, if you need another procedure, you'll wear it again. But it's really gone pretty smoothly. It doesn't hurt. It's not; it's just like a little suction, but it's enough to hold these things onto your chest, and then you have a bra that you wear over it that keeps it in place.
It has a little motor on it that has an alarm that if it's losing suction it will let you know. And you just fix it easily. The fat transfer part has been wonderful. You know, my stomach is getting flatter than it's ever been in my life. So that's a plus. And this last time he took some off of my legs, which I'd never given a whole lot to the legs; they weren't a problem, I didn't think, but they do look better. So, I finally have been able to wear a tank top for the first time in years, because with the mastectomies your chest is more concave, and he's been able to fill that top part to where I can put on a tank top and it doesn't look too bad. Getting there.
I'm not going to say you're not sore from the lipo, but, as opposed to 10 hours of surgery, you're not that sore, you know. And I had surgery about two and a half weeks ago. And it takes you about a week for my legs, you know, he did my legs this time. It took me about a week to be able to; I could walk; I walked myself out, I mean, I didn't have any problem with that kind of thing. But you're sore, you know: It's tender. But it's not terrible.Your chest, where he reinjects the chest, that has yet to bother me. It doesn't bother me at all. No real pain or soreness on that note. It's just where they take the fat from you're gonna be tender from that. Because I felt I have faith in him, you know? He's a great guy. He makes you feel good. I've worked with doctors my whole life, and he's good.
He's good in more ways; he's not only very knowledgeable but he's a kind, caring person, and you feel that. My plusses that I see is that you maintain feeling in your chest, because, you know, with the amount of surgeries that I've had done, basically, you're gonna be numb on your entire front torso. And this way, you're not. So I feel very fortunate on that. I think, in the end, I wouldn't have done any reconstruction had I not come across this. Implants weren't an option for me. You know, I know that with implants they're great for some people, but they have a tendency to encapsulate and you have to, you know; some people their bodies are more prone to building scar tissue.I'm one of those people. So, for me to have implants, I know that I'm setting myself up for future surgeries to repair that. And that wouldn't have been a consideration for me.
Plus, when they did the mastectomies, they remove all the fat, so you don't have the fat pad to make the implant look normal, you know. And there's nothing better than moving the Oreo cookies on up. Like I said, I feel; I can see changes happening in me that I didn't anticipate. There's a lot to be said for feeling good about yourself. I've been able to put on clothes. You don't realize how important it is to be able to put on a shirt that you don't have to be worried about what it looks like.
You know, it just limits your scope of things, you know? You don't dress up because you don't feel good about it, you know? You don't; I'm telling you: For me it was the tank top. I didn't know I was so attached to them, but I have one now that I wear that I love it. You know, and then it's just going to get better. So, I still have; I'm looking at probably another surgery or two ahead of me, and I'm banking on by the end of the year I'll be done. I'm sure I'll be done by the end of the year. Then I'll be on a cruise. In a bikini. Well, maybe not a bikini. I am a grandma. I'll just put a bag on my head.