Read Amy’s Real-Life Journey about Surviving Breast Cancer and her Breast Reconstruction Experience with Dr. Farber
I am a 45 year old single mother of 2 children who, like many, has faced many difficulties. I was born with achondroplasia dwarfism. I am a little person and so are both of my children. Several years ago, I weathered the storm of losing my dream business, going through a divorce, and just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt like I was in a cyclone of events. However, I knew that if I gave up, my children would be without a mother. I wasn’t going to let that happen.
On my journey with breast cancer, I underwent a double mastectomy. On January 12, 2010 I had my double mastectomy performed and it was successful. I no longer had breast cancer, however I was left with two, as I called them, smiley faces where my breast once were.
I met so many kinds of doctors on this journey. The one I write about today is Dr. Scott Farber. He was the plastic surgeon referred to me by my breast cancer surgeon.
Once I was healed , I was given the news from the breast surgeon who preformed the double mastectomy that because of my type of medical insurance, the breast reconstruction surgery would not be covered and it was unlikely that a plastic surgeon would perform the case pro bono. I could remember sitting and thinking, “I don’t have breast cancer and I am alive.”I repeated this mantra as I sat and waited for my appointment with Dr. Farber. I knew that getting rid of the cancer was the most important step. Feeling good about myself again and my body was secondary. I went into the appointment waiting to hear the surgeon tell me he won’t perform the breast reconstruction due to my poor insurance coverage.
I opened my gown to show Dr. Farber my smiley faces. Many women who have battled breast cancer know the feeling of being cold and naked and without breasts. I was fearing rejection on top of that. Dr. Farber took one look at me and said “when do you want to have your surgery “. I replied, “My insurance will not cover it”. He replied, “You don’t have to worry about that.” I was stunned. Dr. Farber was and is a doctor who is concerned about the patient and their well being above anything else. Right then and there I knew I had met the doctor that would give me back my womanhood.
When Dr. Farber decided to accept my case of breast reconstruction both he and I did not know the further obstacles we would face. From all accounts, it looked like a routine breast reconstruction only this time it would be preformed on an Achondroplasia Dwarf. I can remember exposing my double mastectomy chest to him when we were preparing to do the first surgery of placing tissue expanders to get the skin ready. I had never gone through anything like this ever in my life. I had every emotion traveling through me: scared , frightened and worried. Dr. Farber sat on his stool so that he would be eye to eye with me (I am only 4ft 1 inch) and said the words “let’s begin”. At that moment, all my fears and nervousness disappeared.
Dr. Farber took a purple pen and created a map on my skin of where the skin expander would be inserted, I looked in a full length mirror at the sketching on my chest and said “it’s a masterpiece already”. As I look back I could tell in just those early sketches, there was incredible attention to detail. This is something I learned early on about Dr. Farber… he settles for nothing but perfection. You can see this in the individual attention he gives to each patient and the surgeries he preforms on each of them.
I had another challenge present itself while going through the multi-stage breast reconstruction process. They discovered I had kidney cancer and had to have my right kidney removed. The surgery was a successful and they removed the kidney. However, I was faced with a long set back to with my breast reconstruction. It had to be postponed by one year.
One long year later, I returned to Dr. Farber to finally exchange the skin expanders for the real implants. I was more than ready. After recovering from implant surgery, Dr. Farber went forward into the final stage of nipple reconstruction. I knew I was in the best hands with Dr. Farber but I had no idea how someone could create an actual nipple out of just my skin. This type of surgery showcased his experience, skill, and immense talent. An implant comes in all sizes but a nipple has to be created from scratch with only the use of your skin. I got mapped out with purple ink yet again to prepare for my nipple surgery . I remember looking in the full length mirror and saying ” we are going to make sand castle out of sand”. Truly a work of art. On January 2013, I received my work of art from Dr. Farber .
I can’t thank Dr. Farber enough. He has held my hand through this entire process, he made me laugh, and he has wiped my tears. Recovering from breast cancer and breast reconstruction is not a simple journey, it is a very long and scary one. It can affect women single, married, divorced, white, black, brown and yes even those with dwarfism. Breast cancer does not discriminate. I was at the end of my rope and thankfully I never let go. I had skilled doctors remove my cancer to save my life and I had Dr. Scott Farber re-creating a piece of my womanhood allowing me to face the world again more beautiful than ever.