Angela’s Corner: More ConsultationsAngela Banker
I live in a small community of approximately 35,000 residents. It’s a wonderful place to live. We have access to some of the most gorgeous places in the state of Washington without having to travel more than an hour away. However, with my treatment decision made, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in my community to do it. We were limited to those types of options in our area. I needed a place that wouldn’t bat an eye at a 33 year old wanting a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery. I needed a place that has significant experience in both types of surgery. I needed doctors that were confident in their skills. I had no other option than to travel over the mountains to Seattle, Washington.
I started calling all the different hospitals, asking questions and researching prices. I settled on what I considered to be a fantastic hospital. Why did I choose them? To be honest, it was the feeling I received over the phone of a place that really cared about their patients. By the end of July, I had appointments scheduled with both a general surgeon and a plastic surgeon. Since I had to travel into town, the hospital attempted to schedule both appointments within hours of each other.
Unfortunately, my husband opted to stay home to take care of our daughter that day. However, what’s the next best support system to take with you? My mom and sister, that’s who! We met with the general surgeon first. I wanted to know what was possible with my mastectomies. Could I save my nipples? I really didn’t want to lose those as a woman. How long would the surgery take? Any idea on how lengthy a recovery I was looking at? All were very important questions to me. My appointment was recorded and I was provided with a CD prior to leaving. There was a lot that was said and having the option to go back to review was amazing.
After the three of us had a terrific lunch near Pike’s Place Market, I met with my plastic surgeon. I have to say, this was one of the best doctors I could have asked for. He was extremely pleasant, enjoyed my sense of humor, and allowed us three crazy women to ask any and all questions possible. This also was the doctor I would be spending many appointments in the following months with and it was imperative to have a good doctor-patient relationship with him.
I opted to have bi-lateral nipple sparing surgery with immediate reconstructive surgery. I was lucky to be able to have this option. Most patients wait months before they can start the reconstructive process. I believe my young age and excellent health played a major factor into that decision. Since I was only diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, aka pre-cancer), I was told I could wait on my surgery; it was not necessary to operate right away. We found a time that worked for both the doctors and me, scheduling in October. This provided my family enough time to establish a good school routine for our daughter before I disrupted her life.
Heading home, I had a plan. This was the first time I let myself relax and enjoy what the upcoming months had in store for me.
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