In 1999, when Cindy got a breast augmentation from Dr. Peterson, she knew the experience would restore a full, youthful shape to her breasts but she didn’t expect that her breast augmentation would make recovery from a mastectomy easier years later. “I’d lost a lot of weight and I was going to be Fit at 40!” Cindy said of her experience in 1999. “I’d worked out for nine months and lost thirty-five pounds. When I was ready, Dr. Peterson put in tear drop implants and I had no problems at all.”
Fifteen years later, Cindy went to her doctor for a routine mammogram. “They saw something that had crystalized in my right breast,” Cindy said. “They told me it was very routine and that we just needed a biopsy. We did the biopsy the next day, which lead to a second biopsy and then a third. I was thinking, this can’t be normal!”
Then, Cindy got the news from her doctor. She had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. This most common form of non-invasive breast cancer starts out in the milk ducts. “The doctor told me I had cancer and gave me a brochure,” Cindy said. It was news no woman wants to hear. Cindy scheduled the necessary lumpectomy to remove the cancerous growth and waited for the procedure.
“My general surgeon did the lumpectomy,” Cindy said. “It was routine and they thought they got everything. But the pathology report showed the cancer was in my breast tissue. It wasn‘t in my lymph nodes but it was in my breast tissue.” Because the cancer had not spread past the tissue and the tissue could be removed, Cindy did not have to undergo radiation or chemotherapy treatments but she was faced with removing her right breast.
“I was confident in the mastectomy getting rid of the cancer. I knew they could go in and just take everything out but I wanted to look right when the procedure was done. I didn’t want one perky breast and one saggy breast if one was going to be reconstructed.”
Cindy chose a double mastectomy and called Dr. Peterson to do the reconstruction. “My general surgeon did my mastectomy and Dr. Peterson put in the expanders in the same surgery,” Cindy said. “As it turned out, having my implants stretched out the muscles so I had far less pain in recovery than expected.” While Cindy never thought that she would ever had another breast enhancement surgery after her successful breast augmentation, she was thankful how the first surgery made the second surgery easier.
Recovery has been good for Cindy. She again is pleased with her appearance and feels good following her double mastectomy. But, the whole experience happened so fast. “I would have never believed that a simple, regular check up would lead to this. I know some days I whine but I know that I am really lucky!”
An annually scheduled mammogram helped Cindy catch her cancer in a very early stage. Cindy’s best advice is to make and keep those regular appointments. She said to any women reading her story, “Ladies, get those girls checked with a mammogram. They caught my cancer very early. It was all contained so I did not have to have radiation or chemo.”
Statistics show less than a quarter of women diagnosed with breast cancer do not know their options when it comes to reconstruction. By choosing to involve a board certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Peterson early in the discussion allowed Cindy to know all her options.
Early detection is the key to treating most cancers as simply as possible. Regular self-checks and an annual mammogram can lead to early detection. Cindy’s annual mammogram had become so routine that she didn’t ever expect to hear anything other than an all-clear… until she didn’t. Cindy says, “ I know I am VERY lucky.” But she took care of herself, made her mammogram a priority and the doctors caught the cancer early.