Sarah shares her experience of having DIEP flap breast reconstruction with PRMA in San Antonio, Texas


My name is Sarah Hammonds, I am 47 years old, and I am from San Antonio, TX.

I am an elementary school teacher, and the reason why I say that is because last year the second to last week of school, I actually went to a plastic surgeon because I was thinking about having a breast augmentation and a lift. It was there during that evaluation that my doctor found out that I had a lump and also told me that my lymph nodes were swollen. So I was little concerned about that, and I called my OBGYN. They were able to get me in, they looked, did the examination and they weren’t happy with what they found. So I went and had a biopsy. It came back and I found out that I had cancer. So, on June 10th I found out that I had stage 2 breast cancer and I was kind of okay, I wasn’t too terribly scared.

Once my OBGYN told me the best place to go was PMRA, of course I called and went. I could tell you that was the best information that I have gotten from a doctor in almost all of my life, actually. PRMA really saved me mentally, more so than physically. The whole process I think that I felt nothing less than a woman. So I had my first appointment with Dr. Ochoa, and my first impression was that he was very focused and calming. I had a few questions and actually he probably gave me more information than I needed or even wanted to know. My husband was with me so he was able to retain everything much better than me. But I just remember leaving the office thinking, no matter what, this is the person that will do my surgery. And I think that was probably the most important thing because Dr. Ochoa made me feel extremely calm and confident.

I was somewhat nervous before I went, but after leaving that first appointment with him I completely gave any worries, they were just completely washed away because of the confidence I felt with Dr. Ochoa. So during that visit, we discussed all of my options. As I said, I went in originally, a few weeks before wanting to have a breast lift and breast augmentation. But after talking to Dr. Ochoa, the procedure that we decided to do was have a double mastectomy, no nipple sparing, and I had DIEP flap surgery. So I was ready, after I left my appointment, I talked to my husband and I told him that I was definitely ready to get the ball rolling.

The procedure was scheduled for July 25th, which I was actually excited because that is my birthday! So it will always be easy to remember my anniversary, and my birthday on the same day. After I had my surgery, I was actually surprised that the level of pain that I DID NOT have, I think once I had gone home after two days, I was still amazed at how alert I was and how mobile was. I definitely followed the procedures that they give you in the little pink book, I think that helped a lot! I drank my protein shakes, and walked 5 times a day for 15 minutes, the movement helped tremendously! I think the only pain, or complication maybe, that you would say I had was the abdominal pain from transitioning from getting in and out of the chair, or sitting down to a standing position. Other than that, my breast never were sore, incision site, I really didn’t have any pain other than transitioning from standing to sitting. Then especially once my drains were out, that was like freedom! And then I think it was about three weeks, or about a month, after I was pretty much walking 1-2 miles a day, which I think that helped a lot also, but I didn’t have any pain!

I would say that my experience after my surgery was phenomenal! I am so appreciative of what PRMA and Dr. Ochoa was able to do for me! As I stated before, I had originally gone in wanting a breast augmentation and a breast lift, I am just going to say it, I think that I was very fortunate, in a way, that I had breast cancer because I love my breast. I think that this was probably the best thing that could possibly happen, that they came from my body rather than having implants, for me that was my decision, I 100% would be willing to tell anyone, as a matter of fact. I actually have cards from my nurse Crystal, who I have to give a shout out to her to, because she had tons of emails and texts from myself and my husband, and she was just phenomenal every time she answered us, as if she were out only patient! I think that was a huge thing with PRMA, I know that they have hundreds of thousands of patients from all over the world, and every time I went I felt as if I was their only patient. And that was huge for me!

The other thing I would like to say is throughout the whole procedure from the first procedure, to the second procedure, to my final procedures I never felt less than a woman. I like my breast, and so the entire time I never felt like I was not a woman at any point. So definitely I would recommend PRMA to anyone and everyone, and like I said, I carry cards around, and when I find out women who might be thinking about it, I pull out one of those cards and say “Hey, if you need to know all of your options, then you need to go to this place because look at me! Look at what happened to me!” and I tell them my story and I am just so very grateful that I found PRMA

When I found out I had stage 2 breast cancer, my OBGYN told me the best place to go was PRMA. I can tell you that was the best Information I have gotten from a doctor In all of my life! PRMA saved me mentally and physically & I never felt like anything less than a woman!

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Angela from San Antonio, DIEP Flap Experience