Patricia Nance - Dr. Marga's October 2010 Mermaid of the Month

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Patricia Nance

On February 2007, at the age of 53, my 2-year battle with Breast Cancer began when after a lump in my left arm pit had been removed and the pathology findings revealed a diagnosis of "Metastatic Large Cell Carcinoma/Nodular Lymphoma," hormone positive as well as complicated with the HER2 gene. Since the mammogram and the PET/CT Scan did not reveal the cancer, further tests with the breast MRI indicated that the cancer was bi-lateral. With a mass above the left breast and a pin-head on the right breast resulted in a double mastectomy as well as removal of 6 lymph nodes from the left and 3 on the right. Needless to say, my worse nightmare had come to life. From the beginning, I never entertained the thought that cancer would end my life. I was told by my Surgical Oncologist's nurse, "Now Go and Fight for your Life" as you begin your chemo regimen.

From the beginning, my husband Bob of 30 good years assured me that we would take-on my cancer together and his full support has been unending. Throughout my journey, he always mentioned how strong and tenacious I am and call's me "Brave Heart." He attributes much of this image on the fact that, for my entire adult life I have worked-out faithfully 7-days-a-week and while my good health did not stop the cancer, we do believe it helped me fight through the necessary battles to regain my good health. Our research helped guide us more smartly through the upcoming options and decisions. By contacting the American Cancer Society, they helped guide me to a local support group and informed me about Hope Lodge. I spoke with numerous women around the country who shared their story and journey with Breast Cancer. Because of Hope Lodge, I was able to benefit significantly with my extensive surgeries in New Orleans.

Through consultation with local plastic surgeons in the Pensacola, Florida area regarding breast reconstruction, I learned of Dr. Robert Allen and about his successful surgical breast restorative procedures. From there I was guided to New Orleans and to the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery. Dr. Marga Massey had not joined The Center at that time. This began my journey which forever changed my life. In late July 2007-August 2008, I survived 4-phases of surgeries beginning with the double mastectomy during a 12-hr surgery at Ochsner's Baptist Hospital in New Orleans.

Upon my return home, my medical oncologist received my pathology report from the New Orleans surgeons. The mastectomy revealed that the breast material showed "No Signs of Cancer." My teams of doctors were elated and stated, "It does not get any better than this! Just concentrate on getting well and allow your body to heal!

"Over the next phase, I had to endure unexpected radiation because my surgeon strongly urged me that I should not cut corners. So I had to interrupt my breast reconstruction for 5 weeks of radiation which resulted in a "superior labral" shoulder tear. This set me back even further with my breast reconstruction. In February 2008, I had shoulder surgery and endless rehabilitation to regain my mobility. Pictures taken during the surgery revealed raw tissue in and around the rotor-cup which was the result of radiation treatments. After successfully completing the remainder of the four breast reconstructions, I was helped tremendously by my support group members, co-workers, friends and family throughout my journey with Cancer. The "Girls Night Out" included showering me with various crocheted hats since I lost my hair to chemo; then the "Girls Beach Weekend" to celebrate my success with chemo, radiation and now my new breasts. At the time, all of this helped tremendously with my road to recovery.

Finally in August 2008, after completing all the required medical phases with the diagnosed Breast Cancer, I could now begin to see "Light at the End of the Tunnel." However, once again I was set back in January 2009 with the diagnosis of Lymphedema in my left arm where the original cancer occurred. Since I was treated at the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery, I became aware of Dr. Marga Massey at their upcoming August 2009 Support Group Meeting where she was scheduled to lecture on Lymphedema. I immediately and persistently pursued a consultation appointment the next week in New Orleans. At the consultation, Dr. Marga graciously took the extra time to explain with great detail the procedures involved with this new type of lymph node transfer. I was totally impressed and appreciative of her time spent with me on that Saturday afternoon at the Center following an emergency surgery.

From that time forward, I continued to be even more impressed with her personal mannerism and her technical explanations in matters involving this new procedure. Consequently, surgery harvesting 3 lymph nodes from my left groin area to under my left arm was scheduled and completed very successfully in mid-December 2009. My stay at the St Charles Surgical Hospital in New Orleans was with the best skilled medical team in the world. And my stay was equally gratifying with the staff and facilities of Hope Lodge. Also, after I returned home, the endless therapy sessions at my local Rehabilitation Center contributed measurably in my overall success.

All of the time and effort associated with my battle to over come Breast Cancer and Lymphedema was a grueling life experience but it all ended very well because ofDr. Massey. As such, I am one happy and fortunate Cancer Survivor to benefit from her special medical knowledge, skills and experience. She is the reason I have regained my somewhat active lifestyle. Now, at my age of 57, my life is certainly happier and brighter! I continue to thank Dr. Marga Massey endlessly for all her very special care provided to me and for restoring my good health!

Patricia Nance

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