Stanlie from San Antonio, Texas
DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction
Many ask me how I found out about the cancer, because I was not old enough to start mammogram screenings. I really found out by mistake, I had no symptoms, felt no lumps…nothing. My insurance offered this wellness benefit that allowed mammograms starting at age 37, so the year prior I took advantage of the benefit…after all I was paying for it. That test came back normal, so the next year I was going to skip the screening since I thought I did not need it, but some of my female colleagues were on this wellness kick and we decided to screen then go out for drinks. A week later, I started to get a barge of calls, but I was so busy with work I did not return them. The following week I get a letter from the boutique where I had the screening telling me my test results were abnormal - ahh that is why the doctor was calling.
I contacted the boutique on May 16 and they scheduled me to come in to have another mammogram and an ultrasound that day. I was a little concerned, but not really, I figured it was just a precaution. Therefore, I arrived for the appointment had the mammogram and ultrasound, just when I think I am going to leave, the radiologist emerges from this dark room and says, “We need to talk." He takes me to a room and says, “We see a mass on your left breast." I respond “ok, you sure it is not nothing?” He says “no, it’s not nothing” and schedules the biopsy for the next day. The pace at which everything was moving made me take pause, but I still had little concern. I have no family history, no risk factors, never smoked a day in my life - I cannot possibly have breast cancer.
On May 18, 2012, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer; I was 38 and a single mom. My life changed that day. I was in disbelief, sad, scared and I did not know if I would live to see my son turn 18, see him graduate from high school, or even get married. I immediately went into research mode. A friend provided resources that helped me put together a great healthcare team.
I made PRMA part of my healthcare team because of their proven record of accomplishment, reputation in the community and the plethora of information provided on their website. I looked at every picture, watched every video, and read every bio on their website. That gave me the hope and confidence I needed to move forward. I knew emotionally I could not wake up without breast and I wanted the “best” to work on me. PRMA is the best, from the very first appointment my doctor, Oscar Ochoa was awesome. He was kind, patient, gentle, understanding, and very thorough he answered my questions, my family’s questions, my friend’s questions, and he was always compassionate, optimistic, and forthright. An excellent bedside manner and that is so important when you are so scared.
I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction on July 10, 2012; my first surgery was 14 hours. Recovery was long, hard, painful, and I initially felt like Frankenstein’s protégé, but after a few weeks that passed. Dr. Ochoa and his nursing staff supported me throughout my recovery; they educated me on my home care, answered my questions whether via phone or email, and made sure I knew I was not alone. On March 1, 2013, I underwent phase two of my reconstruction that surgery was six hours, by this time I was a pro, so recovery went by fast and I followed all of Dr. Ochoa’s directions to make sure I had the best possible outcome. I am thrilled, content, and amazed with my results. I could not have imagined anything better. I cannot wait to have the micro pigmentation done and see everything come full circle.
All of the doctors, nurses, and staff at PRMA are true gems; they understand the emotional turmoil a breast cancer diagnosis causes and they work very hard to help you cope.