Tuesday 26 July 2016

Only The Christie could offer me the surgery I most wanted for my breast cancer, a mastectomy and a natural tissue reconstruction - Bernadette Featherstone

Bernadette Featherstone, Christie patient

Bernadette Featherstone
Last year was a very difficult year for me. My wonderful father had been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer in June. So life was difficult enough, but then I found changes in my breast purely by accident. I discovered a thickened area to my lower breast that seemed quite large to me – around 2 to 3 cm. I had become so caught up with what was happening to my dad that my own routine health checks were very much sidelined. 

I quickly went to see my GP, who wasn't unduly concerned but referred me directly to the breast clinic. That day was very lengthy with examination by a doctor, a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy; then we had to return later in the day for the results.  

We returned at the end of clinic and met with the doctor and breast care nurse. At this point, even before they told me, I knew what was going to be said. I was told I had breast cancer and would need to be referred to a breast surgeon. 

Whilst waiting for my appointment to come through, I busied myself researching options for surgery. After I had read about the various types of surgery and possible consequences of them, I was beginning to rule out available options that I did not feel where suitable for me. 

The day came for my appointment with the breast surgeon. Following discussions regarding the biopsy results, I was offered either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, due to the size of the lump in comparison with the breast. After the appointment I was able to discuss my options further with one of the breast care nurses.

It was very important for me to reduce the risk of returning for further surgery and the offerings of implants and various types of reconstructive surgery suggested didn't offer me the long term solution I was looking for. 

Following a discussion with the breast care nurse, I enquired about any other available options. There was one further option which would involve being referred to The Christie for a DIEP flap reconstruction. This operation uses tissues from the stomach to reconstruct the breast, and although it is a much more extensive operation, it offered me the surgery that I most wanted - a mastectomy to reduce the risk and a natural tissue reconstruction. 

I was referred to The Christie and met with Mr Kosutic and a breast reconstruction specialist nurse. The operation was explained to me in great detail with the opportunity to see pictures of the surgery, and post operative photographs. I felt without doubt that this option was the best surgical option for me. 

Meeting Mr Kosutic calmed my nerves; he was so easy to talk to, reassuring and without doubt very dedicated to his patients. I had taken the opportunity to have a look at his profile online beforehand and was very impressed by what I found. 

Following an examination, I was told that I was a suitable candidate for surgery. I can honestly say that following my clinic appointment, I had no fears at all. I was calm and very reassured that I would have the best surgeon performing my operation. 

I was admitted the day before surgery so that I could be marked up in preparation for surgery the next morning. Being a patient at The Christie was a really positive experience. There was a lovely environment on the ward, with all staff members making the week’s stay as pleasant as possible. The anaesthetic team were amazing, very reassuring and helped me to have a calm demeanour as I entered the anaesthetic room. 

My stay in hospital was a week long, during which my reconstructed breast was monitored closely to ensure the tissue transplanted was a healthy colour and receiving a good blood supply. I continued to make good progress and was able to walk out of the hospital one week later. 

It has been some months now following my surgery I am absolutely delighted with the results of my breast reconstruction. Mr Kosutic is an amazing consultant, I have been truly blessed being his patient and I will be eternally grateful to him for giving me the surgery of my choice.

1 comment:

  1. Mr Kosutic has been treating me as well! He has been amazing - kind and caring. My reconstructed breast looks fantastic! I do not feel like Frankenstein anymore. I got additional information on reconstructive surgery on his website http://www.lymphedema.org.uk . I can highly recommend him to every woman battling breast cancer/lymphoedema. Best wishes, Annie