Jennifer Heine-Withee - Dr. Marga's February 2011 Mermaid of the Month

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Jennifer Heine-Withee

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, two days before my 39th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I wasn't supposed to get breast cancer, I was young, I was a runner and a bellydancer. The summer I was diagnosed I ran my first half marathon and climbed Mt. St. Helens. How could I have cancer?

The most devastating part of my diagnosis was being told that I had to have a mastectomy. A one boobed bellydancer is not really desirable except as a circus side show act, right between the two headed pig and Harold the dog faced boy. I went just over a year with only one breast and during that time I researched the type of reconstruction I wanted. I saw reconstruction as the light at the end of the tunnel for me.

I decided on DIEP flap reconstruction because I was young and implants have a shelf life as well as a higher rate of rejection, and a TRAM flap would have robbed me of my stomach muscles and ended my bellydancing career. I picked Dr. Massey to do my surgery because 1) she's a woman, 2) she trained under the man that invented the technique, 3) she's a woman, 4) she doesn't do nose jobs, and 5) she's a woman.

The first time I met Dr. Massey I knew I made the right decision. She was a warm and caring down to earth southern gal. She made me feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident that my surgery was going to go well. It was after I had my surgery that I found out just how much she cared for me as a patient. She went to bat for me with the hospital staff when there was a misunderstanding. She told me how she was extra careful with my tummy tuck so as to not touch any of my stomach muscles because that was important to me. I had a lift done on the remaining breast and she was even careful that I retained feeling in that nipple because she knew my loss of sensation bothered me. She is also one of the few surgeons who will perform liposuction on your donor area (among other things) to make sure you have nice lines to your body and don't look like a shark bit you.

It is just over 2 years after my first surgery and I am so happy with the results. I have had no problems and I can fit into my bellydance tops just fine. I am dancing more now than ever before, I can roll my stomach and do all the things with it that I did before my surgery. In fact my stomach looks better because the mommy belly is gone. I was recently in a bellydance competition and won 3rd place and the people's choice award in my category.

I am so thankful for what Dr. Massey did for me and I recommend her to any woman who is going to have breast reconstruction. I miss you Marga. You're a real southern peach!

Jennifer Heine-Withee

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DIEP / DIEP Flap / GAP Flap / DIEA Flap / SGAP Flap
Lymphedema / Lymph Node Transfer / Breast Reconstruction / Mastectomy