In our practice, which performs breast reconstruction for hundreds of women each year, we have met many cancer survivors. We have heard their stories, walked alongside them on their journey, and are inspired by their strength.
We want to honor these women and celebrate their courage and strength by telling their stories in hopes of inspiring others who are facing one of the toughest storms in their lives.
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Facing the Storm of Breast Cancer Diagnosis
It was in 2016 when Julia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She noticed a lump in her breast that grew larger in just two months. After surgery and radiation therapy, she was diagnosed with grade 3 HER2 breast cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy and Herceptin.
As someone who was used to caring for her family, Julia found herself on the receiving end, having to be cared for by others. It was hard for a strong person not to feel weak and vulnerable and experienced an emotional and physical struggle.
Estelle Racusin was also diagnosed with breast cancer. She recalls her journey of going through nine rounds of chemotherapy followed by a double mastectomy and 30 radiation treatments.
During her cancer treatment, she knew this was her chance to become an example of strength for her son, Ben. Despite everything she had to go through, she wanted to show strength while dealing with adversity.
The Impact on their Children
While a breast cancer diagnosis can bring a woman’s career to a halt, being a mother never stops. It brings a new set of challenges, but for these women, hope came in the form of their family members, and their support helped weather the storm.
Julie’s son was barely two years old when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. The hardest part for her was taking care of her young children while she underwent surgery and chemotherapy. There were days when it got the best of her, especially when she couldn’t give her toddler the attention he needed.
Renee, who was diagnosed with cancer at 34, knows that at some point, she will have to tell her daughter about her possible genetic predisposition to developing breast cancer. It’s a conversation that both a mother and her daughter can never really be ready for. But it’s one they need to have, and one they can get through better together.
In some families, children serve as emotional support for their mothers with cancer. For Ann, who had children ages 22 and 25, going through treatment together with them strengthened her fight, knowing that her children were with her no matter what.
Every family has its own dynamic, and you can’t know how to react until you’re in the moment. But the beauty of family – whether the one you were born into or the one you chose – is that they are people who stay by our side even in the worst of times.
There’s no reason to fight cancer alone when there are people who will stand up for you. It can be hard to accept help, but most people want to give it. It’s not a sign of weakness to accept help, but one of strength to allow other people to walk with you.
The Aftermath of Breast Cancer Treatment
With early detection comes early treatment. For many women, that means getting a mastectomy early. It’s a common procedure, but it’s still a difficult decision for many, especially young women.
For those who do undergo a single or double mastectomy, there are breast reconstruction options.
At Midwest Breast & Aesthetic Surgery (MBAS), our top Ohio plastic surgeons specialize in flap-based reconstructive techniques. The Superior Gluteal Artery Perforator (SGAP) Flap Reconstruction uses skin and fat along the upper buttocks and hips to reconstruct the breast. Meanwhile, the DIEP flap (Deep Inferior Epigastric artery Perforator) is an ideal option for breast reconstruction surgery because it can achieve very natural results using your tissue.
There is also the option of Flat Closure, or better known as “staying flat.” This involves removing excess fat and skin from the breasts before your surgeon tightens and closes the area with dissolvable sutures. These days, more and more women choose to stay flat after surgery to reduce the surgical procedures they subject their bodies to.
Living Flat After Mastectomy: What Patients Are Saying About Flat Closure
Here is the step-by-step guide by Dr. Tiwari to help you finalize your decision and what the patients say about living flat after mastectomy.
Our Commitment to Supporting Women with Breast Cancer
MBAS remains committed to empowering women – and especially mothers – to face breast cancer with hope. With the stories of all these women who have persevered and faced the toughest storm of their lives, they have been able to overcome. And their bravery becomes a testament to all others facing cancer today. There are ways you can overcome, along with your families and with the support of a team rooting for you every step of the way.
If you would like to consult with our team of board-certified surgeons, schedule an appointment today.