I was not surprised to find an irregular-feeling lump at 12 o'clock in my left breast. My mother died from breast cancer at age 54 and I had taken precautions with mammograms and self examination since age 21. I knew it would happen sooner or later. An appointment with a GP led to an appointment with a breast specialist in Kingston, NY (I live upstate). A bilateral breast MRI led to a needle biopsy confirming the diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma. Another test was positive for the BRCA2 gene. I was advised to get a double mastectomy! I didn't know what to do since my right breast was healthy now and I didn't want to lose it. I expressed to this surgeon how much I hated to lose both breasts. She told me the probability of developing a carcinoma in the right breast was very high. My head was spinning.
Accompanied by my sister, we met with Dr. Chen in Manhattan. As luck would have it, I showed Dr. Chen an article from that day's New York Times reporting on loss of feeling across the chest with implants. I was very concerned. I didn't want to lose my breasts and all sensation as well. But Dr. Chen advised me that I would be reconstructed with my own fat tissue from my abdomen along with arteries so the new “breasts” would be warm and have sensation as time went on. Dr. Chen showed me photos of prior patients who had had the same procedure. They even had tatooing, as the last step, coloring the nipple and aureola to look completely natural. I was so stunned. Here I was going from a scared, unknown state to one of complete perfection. There's no other way to describe this reconstruction procedure.
After our consult, I decided to go with Dr. Chen's choice of breast surgeon (one who is consistently top rated in her field) and proceeded to plan for the surgery date. I canceled the consult I had with another plastic surgeon upstate who specialized in implants since there was no need to see anyone else. Dr. Chen was so very personable, accommodating and informative about the whole procedure. And who wouldn't want warm, new breast mounds instead of a saline bag being inflated over time! Dr. Chen had done corrective surgery on women who were unhappy with their implants for various reasons. After my consult with Dr. Chen, my sister and I knew this decision has become a “no brainer” and we both felt completely confident with Dr. Chen and her staff. My fears at this point were only concerned with any lymph node infiltration at the time of the mastectomies, and if I needed adjuvant therapy and what kind.
Right now, I really don't think about my breasts that often. And the resulting abdominoplasty is quite a bonus! I can't imagine any woman facing what I was looking at and choosing another way to go. These procedures are state of the art. Dr. Chen's skills and interest in her patients are of the highest quality.
- Regina R.