sm4-Martine

My journey began back in April 2014 when I was diagnosed with lobular cancer in my right breast.

My Breast Surgeon told me I would need a mastectomy but also said that although he couldn’t tell me what to do, he recommended I opt for immediate breast reconstruction which would mean that I would wake up with a breast mound rather than no breast at all. Not knowing that much about breast cancer let alone anything about breast reconstruction I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I wanted the cancer gone!! So, after lots of thinking and overthinking; talking with Gary (my husband) who was happy to go along with whatever I wanted as he just wanted me happy and well and talking to a few close family and friends I told my breast surgeon I would go ahead with immediate breast reconstruction. Being a larger busted lady at the time I knew that I definitely would not want to live with a large breast on my left side and nothing on my right.

I was so lucky to be referred to Queen Victoria Hospital by my Breast Surgeon and so in the May I met my Consultant Plastic Surgeon for my initial consultation. He was so thorough in explaining all the different breast reconstruction options; told me about all the advantages of the surgery; talked me through all the risks and showed me some pictures of various reconstruction surgeries. He examined me and afterwards told me which breast reconstruction he thought would be best for me which was the DIEP Flap reconstruction (which is where the fat and skin is taken from your the tummy). By the time the consultation was finished and the way it had been conducted by my Consultant Plastic Surgeon and also my Breast Reconstruction Nurse Specialist who was present throughout, I already felt I had complete trust in them and was more than happy to go ahead with the surgery recommended. As we said our goodbyes I remember my Breast Reconstruction Nurse Specialist saying to me “Don’t be scared, he operates all the time and you are in really safe hands”. I came away with a big smile on my face. To me trust is everything and as I felt that already from this first meeting, I really did feel I was going to be in safe hands. And this feeling continued throughout my whole journey!!

My mastectomy and immediate DIEP Flap breast reconstruction took place the following month on the 4th June. This is a date that is and will forever remain so special to me as it was the day that the cancer was taken away and my breast reconstruction journey began.

All went well with the surgery and I was home three days after the operation. And all was fine until a week later when I, unfortunately, I developed one of the uncommon risks of the surgery - fat necrosis. I needed further surgery (again this is uncommon) and had another short stay in the hospital.

I then had the cancer treatment I needed of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and I was then put on Tamoxifen for five years. After the chemotherapy and radiotherapy had finished my breast reconstruction journey continued in March 2015 - I had my left breast reduced for symmetry and lipomodelling where the radiotherapy had changed the shape of my breast mound a bit and made it go hard. Then quite a lot of operations followed due to my body seeming to like giving my Consultant Plastic Surgeon different challenges. He told me once that of all the 100 or so operations he had performed since I last saw him, I was his only patient that he had to look in the text book for!! Still he always did his best to ensure he either fixed things or made them the best he could. You will soon get to know that all your surgeon wants is for you to be happy and that that is his (or her) main goal.

I also had nipple reconstruction, nipple tattooing and a nipple sharing operation. My breast reconstruction journey reached it’s end in May 2019 just under five years since it began. A longer time than most but I can honestly tell you that it really didn’t seem like five years.

I received the best most brilliant care, so much so that I just wanted to be able to give something back to say thank you and also help others. And I am so lucky and honoured to be able to do this by being part of Restore where we can be there to help ladies on and going through their own personal journeys and making difficult decisions.

We all know of course cancer is not nice at all and we all wish we had not had it but for me there has been so many positives come out of it!! I am a natural worrier as many who know me would tell you but it made me strong and positive and be able to deal with everything. It gave me the smaller breasts I always wanted but would never have done anything about as I hate needles. And most importantly I have met the most amazing lovely people I would never have ever met otherwise. I will treasure and be forever thankful for all those special people and the special friendships and connections we have formed.

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