Candace Tatton - Dr. Marga's September 2010 Mermaid of the Month

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Candace with her family

I recently turned 40. Most women dread the big "4" "0." Not me, I was VERY excited to make it to 40 because 2 years ago I wasn't sure I would still be alive to see that day.

January 18, 2008 was my D-Day, Diagnosis Day. That is the day that I found out that I had breast cancer. I was only 38 years old. One month earlier I went to my OB/GYN for my yearly check-up. After he did a breast examination he mentioned that he would like me to go get a mammogram. He was concerned about how the top half of my breast was slightly harder than the bottom half. The difference was so subtle that without him telling me what to feel for I never would have found it on my own. Everything I had ever heard about doing self-breast exams said to look for small pea size lumps, not a smooth, gradual hardening of a portion of my breast. As it turned out I had a 4.5 inch tumor. which covered the top half of my breast. Even though my tumor was large it still did not show up on my mammogram because my breasts were too dense and fibrous, a common problem in young women. An ultrasound confirmed that the mass wasn't just a cyst and a biopsy confirmed that it was cancer.

My D-Day was the start of a whirlwind of appointments, tests, and surgeries. I had 8 chemotherapy treatments, a mastectomy, and then 4 more chemotherapy treatments. My husband went with me to my first chemotherapy treatment. After that I decided to turn my treatments into a "girl's day out." I had a different friend or relative take me to each treatment. We would talk, laugh, and joke our way through each appointment then after I was done we would go out to lunch. I would eat a good meal then head home before the side effects started to kick in. With the help from family members and friends I made it through all twelve chemo treatments followed by 30 radiation treatments.

The entire process took just under 11 months. During that time I learned more than I ever wanted to know about breast cancer. I also met some very wonderful women in a group called the Young Survivor Sisters, a cancer support group in Utah for young women with breast cancer. It was at the first meeting I went to that I first heard about Dr. Massey. She did the reconstruction surgery for several of the women in the group. I had my first appointment with her shortly after that. I firmly believe that a woman who needs reconstruction not only needs a highly skilled plastic surgeon but also one who makes her feel comfortable. The surgeon needs to truly care about his/her patients. He/she needs to be concerned about what procedure will help you feel whole again not what procedure they like to perform or what will make them the most money. Many doctors tell you what to do. Dr. Massey explained all my options then let me make the choice that was right for me. By the time we left our first appointment I knew that I wanted Dr. Massey to be my plastic surgeon.

In July 2009 my husband and I went to New Orleans for my first reconstruction surgery. I had a bilateral SGap procedure. The surgery went really well. During my stay at the hospital the staff was very kind and took care of our every need. I returned again in October for my second surgery.

The recovery process was hard but I am so glad that I chose to have the SGap surgery and that Dr. Massey was my plastic surgeon. I know without a doubt that I would not have had the great results that I have had I not gone to New Orleans and had Dr Massey as my surgeon. My new breasts feel natural to the touch and look amazing. I even feel comfortable wearing a bathing suit again. My body looks better than it has in years.

Going through treatment for cancer was very hard and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. If I had the chance to go back and not have to go through cancer I don't think I would. I am a different person now. I am more positive and I don't let little things get to me. I will always bear the physical scars and have some problems caused by my treatments but I am okay with my "new" body. I have grown so much through this experience. I know that my Heavenly Father was with me every step of the way. I experienced many small miracles during the two years between diagnosis and the last surgery. Miracles happen all around us every day we just need to take the time to stop and look for them. I was also the recipient of many acts of kindness and service from friends, family and even total strangers. Through this experience I have developed a strong desire to be there for other young women as they are going through breast cancer treatments.

I am currently President of the Young Survivor Sisters, the support group that first put me in contact with Dr. Massey. I now consider both Dr. Massey and her assistant Ashley Packer to be my good friends. They were both a bright light at a very dark and difficult time in my life. Dr. Massey's skills as a surgeon turned the negative of loosing my breast into the positive that now my clothes fit better. I would and I often do recommend Dr. Marga Massey as a plastic surgeon to any women who needs breast reconstruction or a lymph node transplant.

Candace Tatton

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