Pregnant With Breast Cancer: An Unlikely Story
February 8, 2014
An Oncologist associate of mine recently asked me to consult with his patient Ana, who was diagnosed with breast cancer during her third trimester of pregnancy. While this was horrific news for a soon-to-be first time mom, the underlying blessing for Ana came with the discovery of the cancer late in her pregnancy. She delivered her healthy baby boy only a few weeks early and he received the benefit of breast milk during his first week of life before Mom had to start her Chemotherapy treatments.
Ana is undergoing her first round of treatment and she is doing well. The tumor is shrinking and her Oncologist is optimistic for her full recovery without a mastectomy. I will be following Ana’s progress over the next few months and I sincerely hope she will not need my services. Her odds are good because she was diagnosed early as a result of a breast exam. The most important thing to take away from this read is the benefit of regular breast exams, but equally important is the significance of consulting a qualified plastic surgeon as soon as the diagnosis is given. Because her Oncologist enlisted my services, I was able to reassure Ana she can expect to have a great quality of life after cancer, even if she does have to undergo a mastectomy.
I devote a portion of my practice to reconstructive surgery – in particular breast reconstruction after mastectomy – because I truly enjoy helping these women recover their dignity and their zest for life after cancer. Most women would not even consider the outcome after a mastectomy until they are diagnosed with cancer. By that time they are scared and thinking the worst. The pre-mastectomy consult serves to calm the patient and dispel any preconceived ideas about life after the mastectomy.
Patients are often surprised to learn that I will perform the reconstructive surgery at the time of the mastectomy, depending on the individual circumstances. For those who choose to wait, they leave the consultation knowing they have options because I can show them what my patients have experienced.