Our Patient, Ginny, Looks Forward to a Long and Lucky Life

When Ginny was called back for a needle biopsy after her routine breast cancer screening in August, 2021, she said she really didn’t think anything of it. She had had needle biopsies before. The results had always been normal. The only difference this time was that it had been longer-than-usual since her last mammogram.

“I had just gotten married to my amazing spouse, Martha, in July. Because that was all kind of post-COVID, I hadn’t done a mammogram or sonogram in a year or two,” she explained.

Ginny did not receive the results of her needle biopsy until she saw her primary care doctor in September, 2021. It was there that she learned that she had invasive lobular carcinoma.

“You feel a little shell-shocked when you get told something like that.”

In spite of the shell-shock, Ginny quickly began to choose doctors and make decisions about her health, with Martha by her side for support at nearly every appointment. Ginny said she knew she wanted bilateral mastectomies straight away.

“The decision of mastectomy versus lumpectomy was very clear to me. It was like, ‘get all of that tissue out.’ For me, it was 100-percent the right choice.”

She was confident in her initial procedure, however, she found herself less certain when it came to breast reconstruction. She was not sure what her choices were. She did know one thing: implants were not an option.

“I don’t know why, but I did not like the thought of artificial implants. I thought I would probably go flat before I do that.”

Fortunately, Ginny found her way to a consultation with Dr. Randall Feingold at NYBRA. He provided natural tissue reconstruction options and put her at ease. The Clinical Director of the Patient Empowerment Program, Mollie Sugarman, also ensured that she and Martha feel safe and comfortable.

“The lightness of the NYBRA office and Mollie Sugarman and Dr. Feingold and his warmth and voice and cadence—it helps you feel OK. Especially having Mollie there, that part was sort of magical. It all shows that the office has put so much into taking care of people for more than surgical needs.”

Ginny underwent bilateral mastectomies with immediate DIEP flap breast reconstruction on October 29, 2021. She said she went into the procedure feeling confident despite the fact that she had never had any type of surgery before. Postoperative pathology revealed lobular carcinoma in situ in the opposite breast, confirming Ginny’s instinct to pursue bilateral mastectomies. She also underwent a year of chemotherapy, beginning in December, 2021.

“Microsurgical breast reconstruction has provided Ginny with a soft, warm restoration that allows her, and Martha, to resume the active, free-spirited lifestyle she thought was unachievable. This is the best part of plastic surgery, returning people to their happy, pre-op state of mind,” Dr. Feingold explained.

“Witnessing the incredible bond between Ginny and Martha is a testament to the transformative power of a nurturing and supportive relationship. Their journey towards physical and emotional restoration serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when one has a strong support system,” Mollie added.

Since her initial procedure, Ginny has had four revision surgeries. While she did not understand that breast reconstruction often requires several revisions at the outset, she explained that she was not necessarily upset by that lack of understanding.

“I didn’t realize that the revisions would be ongoing, but I’m not sure that would have been useful to hear in the throes of it,” she said. She continued with a classic Mollism*, “In that sense, I am grateful to have learned what I needed to know when I needed to know it.”

More than anything, Ginny said that right now, she feels lucky—in reconstruction and in life.

“I know doctors deal with cancer every day, but I don’t. I don’t know how common an office like NYBRA is, but in my little experience, it’s not that common. I feel lucky for what was around me. And I feel incredibly lucky to have a partner who is so here and present for all of it. Hopefully I live a long life.”

*A Mollism is a term NYBRA patients use to describe a common refrain from PEP Clinical Director, Mollie Sugarman.

Graphic promotion for lecture

Post Traumatic Growth: Inspiring Stories of Three Thrivers

February 20, 2024

Join us on for our next lecture as part of our Be Informed Lecture Series. Post Traumatic Growth: Inspiring Stories of Three Thrivers Dr. Donna…