More women are choosing to have reconstructive breast surgery after undergoing a mastectomy.
Amanda Demallie of Redding was diagnosed with Lobular Breast Cancer in May 2012. The 50-year-old underwent a double mastectomy last year, and then decided to get breast reconstructive surgery.
“There is a certain amount of anxiety about wanting to feel whole again, feel like the person you use to be,” said Demallie.
Demallie said she was able to find the cancer through self-examination. Doctors told her she was fortunate she caught it early at stage 2. The mastectomy removed the cancer, but left her feeling incomplete. Her reconstructive surgery was a significant part of her recovery process to feel physically and emotionally healed.
“[It's] important that I am who I was before and it was really nice the surgeon was able to do that for me,” said Demallie. “The first time my mom saw me after the reconstruction that’s exactly what she said to me, she said you look like you, and that was really nice.”
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Miguel Mendez of Redding performed her operation. He has been practicing for 34 years.
“It’s very gratifying to see a patient that is in those conditions, and then a few months later you finish the reconstruction and the patient being happy, it closes the cycle for the patient,” said Dr. Mendez.
A significant amount of Dr. Mendez’s operations are breast reconstructive surgeries, because more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. Nationwide there has been a dramatic increase in breast reconstructive surgery, and research has shown that immediate reconstruction can improve the psychological well being of women.
“A lot of our identity is wrapped up in our physical self, obviously that is a huge part of who we are,” said Demallie.
Demallie says it is important for women to do their research before they move forward with this major operation.
“Whatever makes you feel comfortable that’s what you need to do,” said Demallie.
“Before she has a mastectomy she should talk to a plastic surgeon and if nothing else to know what is available. Most of them who do, go ahead and have the reconstruction,” said Demallie.
Demallie is a breast cancer survivor, but she says she has never let it define her.
“I feel really good that it’s not something that someone can just look at me and see the physical scars from it,” said Demallie.
When breast cancer is caught and treated early, the survival rate is 98%. With advancements in research and funding, more women are catching it early and getting the proper treatment. In the United States, there are 3 million breast cancer survivors.