We are honoured to have been given the opportunity to be part of Jennifer’s journey, and so many patients like her. By sharing her experience, we can only hope to spread awareness and support for the many women, their families and friends who are touched by Breast Cancer every year. Thank you for trusting us. Thank you for being our Hero. Being able to give our patients their confidence back, and help them feel whole again is one of the driving passions behind our commitment to our breast reconstruction patients.
Jennifer’s Real Patient Story
“It’s rush to be able to share my cancer story because I have so much encouragement to share! This starts as it has for so very many of my sisters…something happens (I found a lump) that leads to a biopsy and there you are waiting for the door to open, knowing your results are imminent. Instantly the Dr’s face tells you how your next chapter will read. The face I saw was pained, full of compassion and told me that I had breast cancer, explaining the type leads to an 80% odds of demise and that all of the tissue and cells invading my otherwise thriving healthy 46-year-old body must be removed. My scary C monster is called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. He said we will reconstruct, but first, we have to save your life. My life or my breasts; clearly there is a winner and away starts the chapter to fight like there is no tomorrow so that there will be a tomorrow. Plan, organize, keep the best of the best around you and lead with utter gratitude for this gift of hope. Time for a turbo education.
In order for the breast surgeon to perform bilateral mastectomy surgery with skin preserving reconstruction, I needed to meet the reconstruction virtuoso, otherwise known as Dr.Fasano, along with his circle of exquisite women who are the wind beneath his wings. This may seem unconscionable, but while meeting with Dr.Fasano and his Board Certified Surgical Technologist Jessica, (who I later called my Consigliere and friend for life), never did I ask to see images of other women’s results. No before and afters!! I think I inherently knew that this was going to be a deeply specific surgery to my body, and we talked through all of the expectations, the phases of reconstructive surgery after mastectomy, the necessity for healing and observing my body’s response along the way. I laughed and cried that first examination, my husband quaking by my side. We did not know if I was to survive on that day. My first surgery was April 3, 2013. The road was unknown territory, there were trials….there will be trials, but you must believe in your recovery, your strength and you do everything in your power to keep your identity.
I am a Realtor. Two days before my “big surgery” as I refer to the bilateral mastectomy with initial reconstruction, a lovely young couple who I had the honor of assisting in buying their first dream home was at the stage of buying where they had a fantastic home inspection and were elated to be moving forward in their purchase. We were standing and talking through the next steps for them in their future driveway, man, it is always so much fun to be a part of this process. Not knowing how exactly the next few weeks would go for me…I had to tell them about my diagnosis and what was going on. They started to cry and asked why I had not let them know. I told them that this could not affect their journey, or it would break my heart. Cancer can not take control of your world. Cancer can not take control of your professionalism, your family, your responsibilities or your generosity of inclusiveness. Allow everyone to show their love when it feels like it is your timing to let them in. Please, tend to your womanhood, maintain your self-care and double down on your confidence in your joy for living your life!!
There are beauty and strength on the other side of your fight. Be true to yourself throughout the fight of your life! Your value is exponential, you are so beautiful and exquisitely crafted. Before entering the hospital I fiercely told myself that I was coming home. This may seem silly, but I had my hair and nails freshly done, new lovely pyjamas and little gift bags for the nurses and attendants who were to be my caretakers. Lead with utter and endless gratitude. Oh yes, you must keep your sense of humor!! You must see the light and the funny throughout. I remember the day I had my drains removed after the bilateral mastectomy. I posted on Facebook and Instagram…”My drains are gone. I am Udder-ly free!!” Imagine you can give another sister a laugh and a sigh. Do that!!
When you are faced with a diagnosis, the greatest gift that you can bless people with is your honesty and letting your friends and family know how to help. The privilege of those that you have loved and cared for, the people who love you, and heck even those who really like you…for any of them to be able to help you at this time is such a reverse honor. Please, just say what you need, and allow the goodwill to flow to you. This is not selfish, it’s actually selfless…allowing your challenge to be the catalyst for goodness is an amazing power.
My kids were in 2nd and 5th grade when I was diagnosed, and so vulnerable. Be truthful with your family. They will need to process this very confusing and uncharted territory, please give them every opportunity to cope and process through your transparency.
Look at me now, I have survived and triumphed over cancer. All of the survivors, all of those that love survivors and everyone touched by breast cancer, please know that you are in control.
Please, sisters, be militant on your mammograms, and by all means, know your breasts.”
– Jennifer Fleschner