Gigi - Dr. Marga's January 2013 Mermaid of the Month

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I had my original cancer surgery and reconstruction at a major teaching hospital, one of the number one cancer hospitals in the US. I live in suburban Chicago and was not too excited to have to travel for surgery but I have family that I could stay with and I knew that I would have amazing surgeons and top-notch care.

Following my original mastectomy in 2008 I proceeded with chemo administered in my home town. A year after that, I completed a prophylactic mastectomy and bilateral DIEP reconstruction, again out of town,\ staying with family. It was difficult to be away from home and my support system for these surgeries. One of the things I am most thankful for was my plastic surgeon who explained all of my options, including micro surgery. Iím not sure that option would have been available had I done reconstruction locally as it was never mentioned to me as an option.

I was fairly pleased with my DIEP results, but even after two revisions I still did not have symmetry. I was kind of like a work in progress. This made it difficult to wear anything close fitting like a bathing suit or fitness wear and feel comfortable. Two years after the DIEP my plastic surgeon asked if I had any concerns. I brought up the frustration I was having with lack of symmetry. I was told that I had an excellent result. The surgeon offered that I could speak to the body image specialist. I agreed to talk to the specialist thinking maybe I was being unrealistic, or my perceived size difference was all in my head or that I was going to have to live with what felt like a deformity. Following an unsatisfying meeting, I continued my own research and found Dr. Marga.

A few months after speaking with the body image specialist, I found out that Dr. Marga would be having her "The Doctor Is In" program in Chicago. I knew Dr. Marga's reputation and that all of her patients LOVED her. I wasnít aware that she had an office in Chicago. So I thought I would attend the program and then make an appointment with her for a second opinion. I was prepared for her to tell me I already had the best possible result from my surgeries. Truthfully, I was hoping she would tell me there was something she could do to improve my previous surgeries.

"The Doctor is In" program was an amazing event. I kept thinking "she really gets it." Dr. Marga was so compassionate and caring as if she really understood what her patients have been through. Dr. Marga is so engaging! So much information was presented, but it was all explained in understandable terms. There was much lightheartedness and laughter despite the seriousness of the topics.

I approached Dr. Marga after the seminar and briefly explained my issues. She said "I can help you with that." I called Becky at the Chicago office to make an appointment. Becky asked me to email pictures of my present results and Dr. Marga would phone me for a consultation. After reviewing my medical files and photographs, Dr. Marga called me at home on a Sunday morning. She talked to me for 90 minutes, listening to all my questions and concerns, including that I was possibly unrealistic. Was I being too particular after surviving cancer? Dr. Marga compassionately responded that I had an acceptable result but that I probably had done as much as I could in an academic medicine setting. She felt confident that she could address issues that were bothering me and validated that my concerns were not all in my head.

I wasnít looking forward to another long surgery and recovery, but off I went to New Orleans to put myself in Dr. Marga's skilled hands. I had a hip flap surgery at the St. Charles Surgical Hospital, truly it is more like a spa than a hospital. The staff there is amazing. Dr. Marga is amazing. My results are amazing. After spending four nights at the hospital I was discharged to my hotel with a friend who accompanied me. Dr. Marga herself called me every day to check in. I had her personal cell phone number and I could call or text her if I had any questions. Upon my return home from New Orleans she continued to call me once a week to check my progress and answer any questions. My local medical oncologist, who served as my "helper doctor", was not only impressed with the results of my surgery but with the post-surgical care that I received from Dr. Marga. She is devoted to her patients.

I am so pleased with my reconstruction. My only regret is that I was unable to have my original reconstruction surgery with Dr. Marga. Now when I look in the mirror, I see my beautiful results and not the results of having cancer. I like to think of Dr. Marga as my body image specialist. Dr. Marga absolutely made me whole again.


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