LD Flap reconstruction

Joanna was 29 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She was also 35 weeks pregnant.

"It was a really, really big shock," she said.

Joanna is here today (with her beautiful 7-month-old son Reuben) through a mixture of world-class care, a terrific attitude and a little luck.

"Basically, I felt a lump in my right breast, and I just thought, obviously being pregnant, my breasts were changing, they were getting bigger, it's all to do with that," she recalls. "So I just left it. And then a month or so passed, and I noticed it was a bit bigger, and I thought, maybe it's my milk ducts coming in, because, you just - that's what you think."

"I did the Google thing, looked online about milk ducts, and they're like, well, these don't come in until after you've given birth.

"I just need to get this checked, I thought, because I knew that my grandmother had had breast cancer at a younger age, but I didn't really know much about it. And she died a few years ago, so I didn't really know that side of the story, because my parents are divorced.

"So I went to the doctor's office. She had a feel and was like, 'oh, I think it's probably a cyst. I can definitely feel something there, yeah, it's probably a cyst, but I will fast track you to go to a breast clinic up in Tunbridge Wells.

So within two weeks I had an appointment there. They did a mammogram on me, or attempted to, with my big bump. We waited a week and returned.

Then the doctor came in, and one of the breast care nurses told me I had grade 3 breast cancer.

"My tumour was about four or five centimeters, and they wanted to shrink it down before they did surgery. And they couldn't do surgery - they couldn't perform surgery while I was pregnant anyway, so, they wanted me to do six rounds of chemotherapy. I had three. And three Docetaxel. It was just so surreal."

The first thoughts Joanna had, of course, were about her baby.

"They told me, look, you're going to have to have chemo. You're going to have to have surgery. You're going to have to have radiotherapy. And you're probably going to have to have hormone treatment as well. But we think we can cure you. There's a 70 or 80 percent chance you'll be cured for life.

They ideally wanted to get one round of chemotherapy in first.

"So I had two weeks of feeling like absolute crap, basically, and then a week where my body was getting back to normal. They wanted me to have that cycle, and then have the baby at the end of that third week. So they'd induce me at about 40 weeks."

That was the plan.

I had chemo on Thursday, the 28th, and started having contractions on Friday.

I was monitored the whole way, and my baby was born healthy, at 6.5 pounds."

Joanna discovered she carried the BRCA-1 gene, and thus made the brave decision to have both her breasts removed. So she had a bilateral mastectomy with LD flap reconstruction and axillary node clearance on her right side, and a small implant on her left.

The operation lasted ten hours.

Like other women, Joanna wanted to have everything done at once, so that, psychologically, she wouldn't have to deal with waking up and not having anything there.

"You know, I just wouldn't feel like me anymore," she said.

"I was relieved when I woke up. It was done. And I didn't have cancer anymore, officially. It was gone. All of it."

As far as advice goes for other women, Joanna recommends trying not to be put off by the recovery time. Things take time, but they do happen. The reality, she says, "is that if you want to get better, you will get better."

Disclaimer of LifeCell Corporation :

As you read this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications such as those typically associated with surgical procedures including, but not limited to, infection, hematoma, seroma formation, recurrence of tissue defect, fistula formation, inflammation and adhesion formation are some of the adverse risks. Consult your surgeon for a more complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.

Thank you for sharing this page with your friend,
the email has been sent.

Thank you for sharing this page with your friend,
the email has been sent.

We hope you find the information on this site useful. Please feel free to share with friends and family that may also benefit from the site.

By filling out the following form, you are requesting that we email the person specified on your behalf. Both you and your friend's contact information is required, however, we respect the privacy rights of both parties and will not collect the information provided. Please review our Privacy Policy.

* Indicates a required field

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Every patient is different and their reconstruction options and their results may vary. All depictions on this site are for illustration purposes only. Whether or not a patient has breast reconstruction is a decision to be made in consultation with a healthcare professional. Only the patient and health care professional can determine the best option for reconstruction.
By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy. Access to and use of this website is subject to these Terms of Use. © 2017 LifeCell Corporation. All rights reserved. LifeCell™ and Strattice™ are registered trademarks of LifeCell Corporation. This site is intended for audiences in the United Kingdom.