Lisa - Dr. Marga's April 2011 Mermaid of the Month
Well, I am a lot of things, but the one thing I am not is a writer... Therefore I am taking on this challenge with a bit of trepidation. I do feel overwhelmingly compelled to share my cancer story in hope that no other women blindly head down the same path I did. So I will press on and assure you upfront that I will not quit my day job!
I was 32 years old, and it was exactly nine months after losing my Mother to ovarian cancer, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. My Oncologist recommended a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation as my treatment path and that is the path I took.
A few years later I tested positive for the BRCA1 test, and my yearly mammogram found something labeled "suspect". All the raw fear came flooding back like a tidal wave, and I knew then I wanted to move forward with an elective double mastectomy. My OBGYN recommended me to a Plastic Surgeon specializing in reconstruction.
My first consultation with him outlined a very straight forward path. I would have surgery to remove my breasts; an expander would be put in to stretch my skin for implants, and then surgery to remove the expander, insert the implants and create nipples. VIOLA- lovely perky breasts and I would get to move to a healthy and happy life. After consultations with two other Plastic Surgeons, and reading all I could online to try and educate myself, I went through with the surgeries.
But I can tell you now, that my breasts were far from lovely, and my life was anything but healthy or happy. I had to have multiple surgeries to try and get the "placement" of the breasts correct, and after each surgery my cancer side was not healing. I went to another breast reconstruction Doctor that continued the same course of replacing the infected implant, and placing me on a cocktail of antibiotics that I was on for over a year. I was sick, in pain and there was no end in site through my Doctor's eyes. His last recommended surgery was to replace the infected implant with a much smaller size then the other breast and to "hope" that it healed. He then told me, "there was nothing more he could do". After 30 surgeries in relationship to cancer, I felt like (and looked) like a bad science project gone wrong. It was devastating on many many levels.
I was determined not to give up trying to look and feel "normal" again. I searched out other Doctors that provided reconstruction services, and was advised to: "remove both implants and use prosthetics" , "replace the cancer side implant again" to, "remove both implants and start over with expanders and implants". None of these sounded like a good plan, so I continued to search for ANYBODY that could help me understand why this was happening with this implant, and if there was hope for me. Not knowing where else to turn, I Googled "World Class female breast reconstruction Doctors", and found Dr. Marga Massey, and from that day forward my life has changed remarkably!!
I arrived in Dr. Massey's office with a plastic smile plastered on my face, and feeling little hope. I have never said this to anyone before, but I honestly felt defeated and in complete despair. Then the absolute strangest thing happened. After all these years of interacting with medical professionals, I was totally unprepared for what happened next.
I was seated in a beautiful conference room, and met by a fresh faced attractive lady with a laptop. She sat in the seat next to me and introduced herself as Dr. Marga Massey. She made a lighthearted joke about her upswept wet hair, and moved seamlessly into a full discussion with me about... well... ME. I was totally lost; did she think I was there for another reason other then a consultation regarding my deformed unhealed implants?? Where was the sterile room with the freezing cold table, and the paper gown?? - and why was I not staring at a horrible impressionist landscape picture wondering where the Doctor was??? I wasted no more time on those thoughts; it felt WAY too glorious to have a Doctor (A DOCTOR) want to know about me. I was bound and determined to keep talking until I was "found out". I sat next to Dr. Massey and talked, and cried, and talked some more. In the entire time, she never made any motion to look at her watch, or try to guide my ramblings. She sat there quietly taking notes and gently asking questions until I had completely run out of things to say. This was one of the most single profound moments in my entire life. That is what she wanted. She (a World Class Doctor) wanted to know about ME, said in my own words, and from my own perceptions. This woman had to be my angel. It is the only explanation I have!
After the soul healing discussion, I was escorted by Dr. Massey into amazing warm pink room, given a freshly starched linen gown and my medical review began. She talked with me at length about why my radiated side was not accepting the foreign implant, and how she has worked with many women that have had this same result, and how she was working diligently to change this course for future women. She reviewed the surgery recommendation that she though was best for me, and the wonderful success stories that resulted. I even met another of her patients that told me her story, and proudly flashed me her completed beautiful new breasts. I knew then, I found my Doctor!!
Since then, I have since been to wonderful Charleston, New Orleans, and Chicago for my DIEP flap surgeries with Dr. Massey and her teams. And I will be very honest in saying that although these were not easy surgeries, they were all a success!! I wake up every day and see the makings of lovely breasts, and the best news yet??? I'M HEALTHY!! With the support of Dr. Massey's wonderful team (Ashley and Jenny to name a few) whom I adore, I have had constant support and guidance throughout each process And with the healing touch of the mind, soul, and body from Dr. Marga Massey, I no longer feel like a bad science project gone wrong. I feel like a lady that went from the pit of despair to getting her life back..... On the wings of an angel!
There are a million other things I wish I could properly convey here, but as stated upfront... I am no writer. I just want to end now by sending my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Massey, and her wonderful teams........
YOU are my heroes!!!!!!!!!!