"You are a candidate for DIEP"
Now that is exactly what I was hoping would come out of my consultation today with my plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Hergrueter. By the way, here are his credentials:
Dr. Charles Hergrueter
I have an appointment on October 5th to see the DIEP micro-vascular surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Caterson. Her credentials are quite impressive:
Dr. Stephanie Caterson
And she looks younger than my daughters!
Actually, Dr. Caterson performs surgery in tandem with Dr. Matthew Carty which significantly reduces the length of the procedure. These two talented surgeons are two of only four micro-surgeons in the Boston area that perform DIEP reconstruction. So while I am getting in for my initial consultation relatively quickly, it may be 2012 before I am on the schedule. If it happens sooner, I'll be thrilled.
Dr. Hergrueter also suggested that I get an appointment with Dr. Jay Harris, who is the department head of Radiation Oncology at Dana Farber. My radiation protocol will be complicated and I want a doctor who has dealt with someone who has experienced a recurrence after receiving Mammosite radiation.
Dr. Jay Harris
The credentials of all these doctors gives me confidence that I will have excellent care.
I have to admit to some regret at not having pushed for this reconstruction method about five months and 12 pounds ago! I should have gotten a second opinion before agreeing to the tissue expander method. But cancer was calling and I was afraid to keep it waiting, as it was a very aggressive and unwelcome visitor. I didn't have a whole lot of time to research, and I couldn't see myself without some kind of immediate reconstruction.
So what is DIEP? DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforators) flap surgery is a
cutting-edge breast reconstruction procedure that uses a flap of
complete tissue - blood vessels (perforators), skin and fat - from a
woman’s lower abdomen as donor tissue. The flap is then transferred to
the chest, where the surgeon, aided by a microscope, will attach the
donor tissue blood vessels to the chest blood vessels and reconstruct
the breast. This delicate procedure provides significant benefits, such
as a slimmer appearance, a natural-looking breast, maintained core
strength and a quick recovery.
Or in simpler terms, they take tummy fat and skin, relocate it to the chest and build a breast or two. Besides avoiding implants with a lifespan of 15 years, you get a tummy tuck! And after five pregnancies, I could use a tummy tuck!
OK, enough about reconstruction...tomorrow I am undergoing chemo treatment #7 of 8. Taxol is proving itself to have some different side effects, with a little bone pain, elevated liver enzymes and heartburn being about the worst. Also, fatigue has become more noticeable with each treatment. But I can see the finish line and it's 15 days away!