Oh, the irony of it all.
To throw a fit about taking Tamoxifen when it clearly causes weight gain … to spend hours at the gym every day doing cardio … to score myself every night on how well i managed my calories and fat grams … to fight so hard for five weeks just to lose six pounds of weight and 2% of body fat …
… to do all that and then hear the doctor tell me THIS: “It would help if you put on some weight” …
Well, at least i can laugh at the irony.
Thanks to some digging by a nurse practitioner at the Virginia G Piper Cancer Center, I learned that there might actually be a doctor in AZ who can perform the types of specialized flap surgeries i would need for my reconstruction. I had my consultation today with Dr. Tim Matatov at Elite Plastic Surgery, in northeast Phoenix. This consult was a world of difference compared to my consultation at the Mayo Clinic. I brought the photo album i made documenting my breast cancer journey, and he carefully looked at all 30 pages, asking detailed questions about my cancer, surgeries, radiation damage, oxygen therapy, doctors, implants, oncology treatment plan, and hopes for reconstruction. He reviewed some doctors’ progress notes i brought with me. When i stripped down to have him check the fat deposits throughout my body, he literally took out a measuring tape and measured areas along my abdomen, inner thighs, and butt. (BTW, terrible day to decide not to wear underwear!) He explained all my options and told me which ones he thought were the safest. He was brutally honest with me about how many surgeries i would probably need (3-4), what my real recovery time would be in between each one (6-8 weeks the first time, 4-6 weeks subsequently), not being able to promise a particular cup size up front (I *might* get to a full B in time but not at first), and how the purpose of the first surgery was NOT to give me the breasts i always wanted (but rather to get a mound of healthy living tissue attached safely to my chest area). He explained how he deals with insurance companies to ensure that he gets paid, and he said he never comes after the patients for money in the events that insurance providers underpay. He said he does cosmetic surgery procedures because it pays the bills and reconstructions because it is his passion. He spoke of doing his training in New Orleans (the mecca of breast reconstructive surgery, for the record), working under Bob Allen (the breast microsurgeon who INVENTED the DIEP flap surgery), participating in 180 breast reconstructive procedures during his residency, and completing 17 flap surgeries in the six months that he has been working in Phoenix). He said there are only 3 surgeons in AZ who do flap surgeries; the other 2 work at the Mayo Clinic (Dr. Casey being one of them). He showed me pictures of his former patients, very graphic photos of the abdomen being cut open and stretched out during surgery (that part was too much!), and images of CT scans showing the blood vessels throughout the body. He listened to me, examined me, and consulted with me for almost two hours. I was blown away by the level of detail and the degree of honesty he shared during this consult.
If i do end up deciding to go through with reconstruction, i think i’ve found just the right doctor.
Surgery #1 would take place in late March.