Kelli McKinnish - Dr. Marga's March 2011 Mermaid of the Month

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Kelli McKinnish

My Mermaid Story

I was always a 'big breasted' gal... from the time I sprouted in the fourth grade until 2007, I had large D breasts. As time went by, I grew tired of carrying around those gals, my shoulders & back paying the price. I would often joke that for my 50th birthday, I was going to have a face lift and a boob job... putting back in place what age and gravity had taken away. Instead, 2 weeks before my 50th birthday, I had a mastectomy! The news was not good. After chemotherapy and radiation, after many sleepless nights and days of sickness, there were still positive lymph nodes in my body...stage III. Devastated did not begin to describe my mindset. But as I got farther away from treatments and surgery, as I began to regain my strength, as I grew back my hair and decided to fight back at this prognosis, I realized the one reminder I HATED from this ordeal was wearing that huge, hot, bothersome prosthesis! Most days, I didn't think about cancer until I had to get dressed, then that's all I thought about... not a healthy mindset for fighting back.

That's when I found Dr. Marga. I knew I couldn't be emotionally whole and healthy as long as I wore the prosthesis. And I knew I really didn't want any breast tissue left in my body to fight this disease effectively. After speaking with Ashley and setting up a consultation, I first spoke with Dr. Marga on a Saturday morning. How many surgeons, top in their field, actually consult with patients on a Saturday? Dr. Marga answered all my questions and removed any doubt I had about the DIEP procedure. Stage I was performed in Charleston and Stage II in New Orleans. BOTH facilities were excellent and the nursing care was superior. I am 4 months post op from Stage II DIEP, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. No, the surgery is not fun. Yes, recovery can be a stretch. But Dr. Marga and her staff are always available each step of the way, making sure I had everything I needed.

Just 7 weeks after my Stage II DIEP surgery, I attended a holiday party with my husband. For the first time in 3 years, I didn't have that heavy prosthesis on, I didn't have to wear a dress up to my neck to hide scars and a big chunk of silicone, I didn't feel like a cancer survivor, but rather like a 'thriver' ...felt like myself, like the belle of the ball... happy, healthy, and so, so very thankful for a surgeon who took the time to craft beautiful (size C happily) grafts that match and are back up where they're supposed to be! Not a day goes by that I don't thank God for Dr. Marga and my gorgeous 'foobs'! She is a friend for life. Forget the face lift, my happiness shows. Cancer schmancer... no longer do I dread getting dressed. Now I'm living happily ever after...

Kelli McKinnish

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