PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about education and underscoring the importance of early detection. Doctors say more extensive breast cancer surgery often involves reconstruction and now there’s a way to improve some of the older treatments.
Mariann Lotenero is busy looking at point samples redecorating a bedroom. She says she doesn’t have time for what breast cancer left behind.
“I was diagnosed in 2011 and had a bilateral mastectomy, double mastectomies and then reconstruction with implants,” Lotenero said. “I was having tightness and pulling. Sometimes I felt like an ace bandage around my chest, but I didn’t have cancer, so you just learn to live with things.”
While she and her husband were happy she was able to beat breast cancer, the implants used for reconstruction were uncomfortable and caused numbness.
So she had a second breast reconstruction to remove the implants and replace them, restoring sensation.
“If they have sufficient tissue in the abdomen, then we take that abundant tissue, then we can relocate it into the breast,” Dr. Risal Djohan said. “We can also locate and preserve the nerve from the abdomen and then look for the nerve in the chest and then reconnect them together.”
The surgery was 11 hours with a long recovery, but Lotenero’s back to decorating and says she’s finally able to put cancer to bed.
“I forget I had cancer, now I’m going to cry,” Lotenero said.
This type of nerve-restoring reconstruction can now be done during the initial surgery so newly diagnosed women who qualify only have to undergo one procedure.