Thankful To Have Been Heard10 October 22
Everything moved very quickly for me and the team. I've learned, by talking to many other warriors, that my team isn’t the norm, which is upsetting on many levels. Along with my family, friends, and therapist, my team kept me afloat and truthfully, still are. I'm also learning that everyone isn’t fortunate to have a Nurse Navigator assigned to them (basically a guardian angel by your side the entire time) mine was able to ensure my appointment with Dr. Katherine Hansen.
From the start I felt a sense of comfort being in her presence. Scared, sad and fearful of EVERYTHING, I knew, with my husband by my side, and her as my surgeon, I could do this. The number of things we discussed was overwhelming, it felt foreign to me, like, is this happening? Why me? Yes, I will take another tissue!
Dr. Hansen was thorough, optimistic and, well, a badas**! Most of the things we talked about ended up changing. At first lumpectomy was on the table, but then, with further tests, the MRI showed that there were areas in the left breast that had the same characteristics of the largest tumor attached to my nipple, so saving it was out of the question.
Meeting with Dr. Hansen and hearing her tell me that my choices would now be either removing only the left breast, or having a bilateral mastectomy (the right breast was completely healthy). Never once while we were in her office, did I feel rushed, unheard or unsupported. We went over a list of pro and cons for both single and double mastectomy, I was told she would book the OR for a double, but I could give her my final decision on the morning of surgery.
The morning of December 29th came, I had already made my decisions, which were not taken lightly; lots of sleepless nights, tears and intrusive thoughts around losing my breast(s). Double Mastectomy was my decision.
Looking back on conversations with Dr. Hansen, my husband, parents and sisters, there was one thing I was ALWAYS 100% certain on, and that was NO implants or reconstructions for me. I did not want anything in my body. Horror stories I have heard about implants, as well as all the complications from reconstructions, wasn’t for me. I expressed this to Dr. Hansen, and she was NOTHING by supportive of me being flat. She let me know that if I wanted to change that in the future, I could, but she said she felt firm that my mind was made up.
Not only was she supportive of this but she also gave me information about different flat closures options, together with a Flattie's support group, which I didn’t even know was a thing. I truly believe that Dr. Hansen is forward thinking, progressive and an amazing surgeon, empowering me with all the information, facts, pros/cons and LISTENING TO HER PATIENT!
For me, losing my breasts was difficult and seeing my new body was really scary, but my follow up’s and check ins with Dr. Hansen helped me tremendously! She didn’t just leave me after the surgery, she continues to be present, and during these visits, she not only checks my skin, showing me how to do my self-exams now and what I need to look for, she is always concerned with ME, and how I am mentally!
So many women’s stories and experiences are NOT like mine and that makes me sad. Some are feeling the pressure from their doctors to do one thing or another, trying to force reconstruction - not even informing staying flat as an option. I want to shine the light on Dr. Hansen for this, and let as many other women know that there are doctors out there that listen and support you without pushing their own beliefs.
Thank you, Branwyn Lee #theskarlettefamily
Information is power, advocating for yourself is important. Let's hope there are growing numbers of doctors like the one Branwyn was fortunate to have providing her care.