My paternal grandmother died of breast cancer.
My maternal grandmother died of an unknown disorder of cancer.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40. She had a mastectomy with reconstruction. The next year she developed ovarian cancer and had a hysterectomy. Eventually, after bouts of recurrent cancers throughout her body, she passed away due to recurrent breast cancer at the age of 54.
A genetic study was begun at West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University involving my grandmother and mother’s genes. A geneticist determined that our family genetics closely fit with Cowden’s syndrome – a rare condition that, among other effects, is related to an increased risk of malignancies in the breast – but we may have a genetic mutation all of our own.
My personal history includes at least five invasive breast biopsies beginning at the age of 17, all of which were benign.
With my family history, I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that my day was coming. It was just a matter of when, and what I could do about it. Do I do the responsible thing for my husband, two children and myself and deny cancer the opportunity to develop, OR do I take my chances and avoid making a change that could make me feel less than whole? I made the choice to beat cancer at its own game, and move forward with a prophylactic bi-lateral mastectomy.
I set out to find my surgeon. All of the research I did on Dr. Myckatyn was positive. It also helped that Dr. Eberlein, the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine, had spoken highly of Dr. M’s perfectionism.
I knew I had chosen the right surgeon on the evening of my initial consultation. Dr. Myckatyn took time out of his busy schedule to call me at home to further discuss my decision. He jokingly asked if his call had freaked me out. I told him, “Of course! But I’m listening.” He helped me to feel comfortable with my decision, reassuring me that reconstruction can be a positive thing. He was right. My results are beyond expectations, and I am more than pleased with his work.
The reconstruction was scheduled for six weeks out from the initial consultation, to give me time to quit smoking. I was back to work full-time within two-and-a-half weeks of surgery. I feel my recovery time was a walk in the park – not like others’ experience. My family and friends said that I made it look easy.
I’m now going through the nipple reconstruction process. I loved my new breasts so much that I was reluctant to change them at first, but made the decision to complete the appearance, and to feel whole and complete. It’s too soon to tell, but I’m already very pleased with my new nipples, they look very natural and I’m looking forward to the tattooing that Dr. Myckatyn’s office will perform.
Dr. M’s staff is outstanding. Tammy made an extra effort to see me at 7:30 a.m. to do my fills, which was very convenient for me. Personally, I dread seeing my clients waiting for me when I arrive at work, so it really meant a lot that she willingly made special arrangements for me.
Emily always makes me feel that my concerns matter and sets me at ease when any questions or concerns arise. I appreciate the time she takes out of her busy schedule to touch base with me.
How has it changed my life? I, for one, had a special attachment to my natural breasts and was initially reluctant to give them up. I felt I would lose my “mojo,” sensuality and appeal. Nothing could be further from the truth! I now have more confidence post-reconstruction. I have two less areas of my body to worry about, and the new "twins" look amazing! I am happy to tell my story to others and I highly recommend Dr. M and his staff to anyone considering such a process.