Libby Fugate - Dr. Marga's November 2010 Mermaid of the Month

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Libby Fugate

I was 39 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was February 2001. Due to an extreme family history of breast cancer (maternal Aunt, mother and both sisters), I chose to have bilateral mastectomies. At the time, I had more knowledge than the average person about the various types of breast reconstruction, as I am a Nurse Anesthetist, and have provided anesthesia for patients undergoing different types of reconstruction.

With the best of my knowledge and the desire to have as simple a procedure as possible, I chose reconstruction with tissue expanders and implants. The results were asthetically pleasing, but I never really felt as if I had real breasts, but that they were "stand ins" for my old breasts. However, I felt blessed to have survived.

The course of having the implants was not easy. My first two sets became encapsulated and for my third set, I finally had gel implants. These felt more realistic, but only very slightly. They were still hard as compared to real breasts and cold to touch.I was married and my husband and I decided that this was my fate and we would just be grateful for my survival and just cope with the rest.

That was all and fine until 2006, when my husband abruptly left me and asked for a divorce.

In 2008-2009, I began having problems again with my implants and had to have them removed due to a rare and puzzling case of cellulitis. My surgeon at the time and I both agreed that I should never have implants again. I was considered too thin to have a TRAM (abdominal donor site) flap and he recommended a latissimus flap. He is a very fine and meticulous surgeon, however, I wasn't too keen on having yet another two large scars on my body. I already felt ravaged enough. Yet, if I were to have breasts again, I felt it my only option.

One of my friends told me about this new breast reconstruction that she had never heard of before, the GAP flap. I'll never forget her saying, "Libby, you cannot believe how beautiful they were...and her butt looked great too!" She encouraged me to look into it. But I had already decided to have the lat flap....that is until I had another friend ask me if I really wanted to have the scars and the defect left in my back.

So I decided, why not just look into the GAP flap? It seemed a long shot but I started a Google search and found a woman surgeon with an office in Chicago (my hometown) who does the GAP flap. With much apprehension, I called the number and got Jenny on the phone. She asked me so many knowledgeable questions about my situation that I knew from the start that she understood the details and nuances of breast reconstruction. I asked her her opinion of the doctor's work and her voice got very serious and I'll never forget her saying, "The results she gets are beautiful. You can't go wrong. Dr. Massey is an amazing surgeon and an amazing person as well." That day I called Jenny back and asked her about my insurance company, how that would all work out, since I wasn't having surgery at the hospital where I worked and that was not going to be In Network. Once again, Jenny reassured me that they would help me work on it and that things would be all right.

By then, I was getting hope that I could actually have breasts again. Being unexptectedly thrown back into the dating scene at my age was hard enough, but to do it without breasts...well, I'm tough, but I just felt like I'd been through enough.

I work at a major teaching hospital, in Chicago and I love working there. I was a bit reluctant to go elsewhere for my surgery, since I work at a place where we already have amazing surgeons and I trusted the plastic surgeon who had taken such good care of me already.

So I did what every health care professional does, I asked someone else who knew her work. I happened to know the anesethesiologist who heads the anesthesia group covering the surgery center where Dr. Massey does some of her second or third stage surgeries in Chicago. I knew I'd get an honest opinion. He spoke glowingly of both her work and her personality.

Two days before my appointment with Dr. Massey, I stayed late at work to finish a long case I had been doing all day. As I got ready to leave, I passed through our anesthesia break room, where I saw one of my coworkers, Dr. Dhanesh Gupta talking with a pretty blonde woman. Dhanesh stopped me and he beamed, "Libby, have you met my wife, Marga yet? Libby, this is Marga." My first thought was, "Oh, funny how I've never heard the first name Marga before and this is now the second Marga I will have met in as many days." Then I looked down at her and saw her nametag which read "Dr. Marga Massey".

My eyes filled up with tears and I whispered to her, "Oh my gosh....I...have an appointment with you in two days." She beamed at me and said, "I know, I think this is Divine Intervention." (I'm crying now as I type this because it was such a special moment, just remembering it makes me weep).

At that moment, I knew everything was going to be okay. And I was absolutely right.

My reconstruction is amazing and beautiful and I feel like it is a miracle. I haven't even gone through my second stage yet and I already feel whole again. God gave us an amazing, talented and beautiful person in Dr. Marga. She uses those God given skills to help people feel whole again, to help us put the pain behind us.

Just read the testomonials as to how warm and friendly Dr. Marga is. They all speak the truth. She's everything they say, plus more. Her essence is beyond words.

Thank you.

p.s. I need to give a shout out to all the amazing nurses who helped take care of me at Roper Hospital. They were superb. I can't say enough about their excellent care and their kindness.

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