Editor’s note: Please note the egregious and blatant disrespect of the patient’s wishes here. This surgeon felt so comfortable overriding this woman’s consent, that she actually openly joked about it in the post-op consult. This is unprofessional, predatory, abusive behavior. Luckily, in this case, the woman was able to get a revision to fix what the original surgeon did to her.
I was diagnosed with stage 2 Breast cancer that was HER2+ in 2014. At the time I had many family members dealing with cancer. Being HER2+ I was offered a DMX surgery & I always knew what I would do if I ever got the diagnosis of Breast cancer, they would be gone, they don’t define me as a woman. Although once I got the diagnosis I went into shock & I had an immediate lumpectomy followed by chemo, radiation & Herceptin treatment.
Once I was 6 months post surgery I started finding more lumps in my breast & the fear of cancer returning was a very real possibility and scare as many of my family members cancer had returned. After many discussions with my family physician, we came to a decision that I should have my breasts removed in order to stop living in a state of fear and minimizing the opportunity of a return. I was referred to a female general surgeon which I thought would be great as I felt she would understand my feelings completely about going flat. We discussed my surgical procedures with my husband in the room letting her know that I wanted a Flat outcome with no reconstruction. My surgeon did question my reasoning but I told her there was too many in my family with recurrence & my choice was Flat & final. I thought she understands my feelings at this point.
Once I was in the Operating Room and I had crawled on the gurney as they began putting in my IV to put me to sleep I announced loud & clear for all to hear in the OR “Remember Flat as I’m Not reconstructing”. When I woke up from my surgery I peeked at my chest and noticed a large raised lump under the dressing in the middle of my chest where my cleavage once was. I asked the nurse what it was & she told me it was just swelling & it would go down in a few days. After 2 weeks & once the swelling was down, I had what resembled a Ducks beak made up of a pile of skin that was gathered and left in the middle of my chest.
At my follow up visit with my surgeon, my daughter and hubby came along & as I opened my shirt in front of my surgeon I pointed to the large Ducks Beak sitting on my chest, I asked “what is this lump. My surgeon responded with, “That’s a funny story, during your surgery as I was removing all your breast tissue I thought, she’s going to change her mind, but the OR nurse reminded me, you had asked to be flat and she told me just cut it off for you, but instead I said no she might change her mind, so I took the extra skin and piled it in the middle of your chest for later reconstruction.”!
I was asleep and my request to be Flat was no longer my choice.
When I told her I was serious about no reconstruction she didn’t seem to believe me and said she felt I might change my mind so she left a pile of skin on my chest for when I did want reconstruction. She then tried to explain the many options out there for me & that a new surgeon had just moved into town that is a friend of hers who could give me new breasts but if I waited too long the waitlist would be very extensive because she was a very popular surgeon. I reminded her once again I asked to be Flat, that is my final choice & I left her office.
I finally found a surgeon 2 years post my DMX that listened to me and fixed my chest wall and allowed me to make my choice about my body to live Flat.