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Update: Life After Mastectomy

Update: Life After Mastectomy
March 15
19:27 2016

How Breast Reconstruction Can Help You Have A Fulfilling Life After Mastectomy

It was one of those days you want to spend with your friends over a glass of wine and talk about the latest beauty trends and celebrity gossip. Marnie Lynn Sennett and her friends were socializing, discussing diets, fitness and how to stay in shape.

Their conversation switched from cosmetic remedies to plastic surgery.

“Girls, if you ever need anything done, there is this plastic surgeon in Toronto,” one friend said.

At that time, Marnie associated plastic surgery with cosmetic purposes. She firmly believed that if a person is considering filling in lines, and feels a need to change something affecting their confidence or self-esteem, they should go for it. Although Marnie didn’t plan to go under the knife soon, for reasons unbeknownst to herself, she wrote Dr. Martin Jugenburg’s name down and kept it in her wallet.

It wasn’t long before she needed that number. When Marnie was diagnosed with breast cancer, she remembered the serendipitous event and hoped Dr. Jugenburg—praised so much by her friend—could help.

Overwhelmed by emotions and confusion from the diagnosis, Marnie was still able to educate herself and consent to breast reconstruction.

“It’s kind of a funny thing to say, but I just knew that somehow I would end up still having breasts,” she said with a smile.

Now, Marnie has a sense of pride—she is a breast cancer survivor with a double mastectomy. She is both physically and psychologically healthy and she attributes that comfort to her doctor.

Dr. Jugenburg, who performed Marnie’s breast reconstruction, said this kind of procedure helps women who went through a mastectomy restore their body image, as well as their female identity.

“Marnie was left with nothing,” Dr. Jugenburg explained. “My role is to create something that looks and feels like a breast.”

Marnie wanted a skin-sparing mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction, but was unaware how these procedures work with other medical treatments. Dr. Jugenburg explained that if she proceeded with her scheduled lumpectomy with radiation, she would no longer be a candidate for skin-sparing mastectomy. Marnie wasn’t eager to accept a deformed breast after a lumpectomy with radiation. She also didn’t want to reject the idea of breast reconstruction. She needed help.

Marnie’s surgeon was able to perform a skin-sparing mastectomy and insert a temporary tissue expander, preparing her for the final stage of her breast reconstruction with Dr. Jugenburg. Due to the suspicious areas in her other breast, Marnie opted for the second mastectomy, performed approximately two months after the first procedure with additional breast reconstruction.

Dr. Jugenburg changed the entire process of the treatment and cooperated with Marnie’s surgeon to obtain the best results. This choice gave Marnie inner peace and a positive result to focus on. She feels she had the upper hand in beating cancer.

“I knew that if I had opted for a mastectomy without reconstruction or had breast reconstruction after dealing with cancer, I would never be able to really feel ‘totally well’ with the constant physical reminder,” Marnie explained.

Marnie said the outcome surpassed her expectations. She left the hospital the same day and went back to work three months after the surgery. Soon, the pain and discomfort completely disappeared.

“The beautiful thing about breast reconstruction is it allows me the blessing of having moments, albeit brief, where I forget the terrible disease that rocked my family and emotional well being.”

It is integral to have a plastic surgeon who is available 24/7. Marnie felt that her confidence in Dr. Jugenburg—as well as his passion—helped her focus on a positive result, and not the diagnosis.

Plastic surgery is not only to be associated with cosmetic purposes. Marnie believes women should really consider this option upon breast cancer diagnosis.

“I kept thinking, if a woman had a mastectomy and she has to look on 10 years later and every time she sees her bare body where the breast used to be… I don’t know how well you would feel.”

Many women with breast cancer are unaware of reconstructive options that plastic surgery can provide. Only nine per cent of cancer survivors have breast reconstruction. The majority of women will have physical and mental reminders of the illness throughout their lives.

“I know that it is more common for women to be lost in the information they have been given and unsure of what to do. Having all of the information and options in front of you at the first diagnosis can only help to sort through and choose what will be best for you,” Marnie said.

Marnie proves that an educated choice can help you continue living a fulfilling life.

“Breast reconstruction has allowed me to put myself in a forward thinking way, focusing on my healthy future. In a way, it gave me back my life before diagnosis; it gave me what was mine.”


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