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Andrea was a very young woman – only 36 years old – so she was shocked to discover that she had cancer in her left breast. "When I first found out that I had breast cancer," she says, "I was pretty devastated." She did not feel prepared to deal with cancer at such a young age. Fortunately, her sister is a plastic surgeon and helped to guide her through the process.
Andrea took her sister's advice not to rush the decision about breast cancer reconstruction. She says, "I started with the lumpectomy. I had my chemotherapy. I went to my support group. I saw a therapist so that by the time I had the mastectomies, by the time I opted for immediate reconstruction, I felt comfortable with the decision that I had made."
She decided on a double mastectomy (removing the right breast prophylactically) and bilateral breast implant reconstruction with full muscle coverage. She chose immediate breast reconstruction, so it was performed at the same time as her mastectomy.
With her cancer treatment and breast reconstruction complete, Andrea was able to focus on something that she'd had to put on hold after her diagnosis: having a family. "I am alive," she says, "and I have beautiful three-and-a-half-year-old twins who I might not have had otherwise."
Andrea says, "I tell women all the time, 'you have to know yourself. You have to know your history. You have to know your goals and you have to know what is right for you. You have to be an advocate for yourself. And if you feel in your heart that you need certain action taken, you need to push for that action for yourself.'"
The method of reconstruction you choose will depend on a variety of factors. The best way to determine which procedure will best meet your goals is to meet with a qualified surgeon. You can use our Doctor Finder to find a breast reconstruction surgeon near you.
Read the full transcript of Andrea's story.