To keep their names private, here is a key of significant people:
Dr. D- the breast surgeon
Dr. L- my breast doctor whom I go to for my bi-yearly breast exam
Dr. M- the plastic surgeon specializing in reconstruction
July 29, 2013
I get to the office of the Comprehensive Breast Care Center, sign in, and sit down with my dad. I told him to stay in the waiting room until after I’ve had a chance to personally talk to the doctor, then I would invite him in.
Once in the exam room, I de-robed and waited all of 10 seconds for Dr. D to come in. She shook my hand, introduced herself (we’d met several times before) and said, “Kelly, to be honest, I don’t know why you’re here today. Last week when I looked at my upcoming appointments and saw your age, I went to Dr. L and asked her why she set up a meeting for us. She told me to just meet with you, and I’d understand why”. So, right away, I knew she didn’t want to do the surgery. Right away she made it clear that she thought this was a bad idea. She told me the youngest patient she’s operated on was 25- a whole 5 years older than me.
Then I told her my mom’s maiden name, and she understood. Dr. D has operated on some of the women in my family several times before.
I basically told her the facts about myself. I am stubborn, and I am a planner. I plan ahead, my whole life I’ve known I want to be a mother, so I chose a career that would make it easy to be with my kids and be involved in their lives. I told her my insurance fully covers the procedure and this is the last summer I will have off of school until after I graduate. Then, when I do graduate, I don’t know if I’ll be hired, where I’ll be hired, and how long until I’m tenured with no risk of losing my health benefits. Then I start graduate school. I told her I want to be able to hold my kids, play with them, and I don’t want them to watch me go through this.
She understood. She treated a member of my family whose cancer was small, but powerful. They hit it with everything they had- surgery, chemo, radiation- but she died. That’s what this gene does. It hits hard, with no warning. She knows that if I ever was diagnosed, there would be no hope for me.
She consented to the surgery, mainly because I told her I was planning it for almost a year from then- May 2014. She thought that would give me plenty of thinking time if I want to back out of it. She then presented my case at the ethics board of the hospital, and they unanimously agreed that I was well informed of my options and they approved the procedure.
Then she gave me a card for Dr. M, her plastic surgeon partner in this. She removes all the breast tissue, then he does the cosmetic aspect (which starts with tissue expanders under the chest muscle, then over a period of 3 months, he fills the expanders and then a second surgery is needed to put the implants in place). So I called Dr. M’s office, and left a message.
August 26, 2013
So on the day of my first meeting with the plastic surgeon I wore a shirt that ironically says “Lets make cancer extinct” with dinosaurs on it, and my dad and I left for his office at about 7:15 am. I wasn’t nervous believe it or not. More excited.
Get there, fill out forms, yadda yadda.
Get into the room and the paper on the exam table has pink ribbons on it.
The nurse talks to dad and I and explains the procedure, all of which I already knew.
Then the Dr comes in. Dr. M is a big teddy bear of a man- so very nice, and he made me feel very comfortable. He showed me 2 types of implants he could potentially use on me. Mentor CPG or Allergan 410 and to be honest I didn’t really see a difference. Once I was done playing with them I said “Here’s your boobs back” and he cracked up and called me a ‘firecracker’, to which I said he was just used to dealing with middle aged women.
All he does is breast reconstruction. When I asked why, he says he doesn’t feel proud of his work doing tummy tucks and face lifts. He likes to given women like me their lives back, and make them feel as normal as possible.
He told me that he was 100% comfortable doing the surgery and was proud of me for being so proactive, he then called Dr. D’s office and scheduled the surgery.
I got home that night and cried a lot, not from sadness or grief over losing my breasts, but because there’s nothing more for me to do but wait. This is it, I’ve done it. I’ve made this happen. I have the best surgical duo in the Midwest operating on me in a world renowned hospital. I will be the youngest woman to ever do this. I am so proud.