Mary Beth, a 51-year-old professional photographer, actually met Alice C (see Alice's story here) through a friend. Mary Beth was interested in helping out with Alice's My Vision project. About two weeks after they met, Mary Beth was diagnosed with breast cancer. She also didn't want to have a lumpectomy and radiation because if the cancer returned then that translated to more surgeries and also more breast tissue being removed.
"Why am I holding on to these," she said to herself after remembering recently getting out of the shower and catching a glimpse of her aging breasts in the mirror reflection. She visited different plastic surgeons in search of some options for breast reconstruction. They only offered the two-stage standard procedure.
"I was so devastated I would have to go through two surgeries and expanders," she said. "It was a miracle that I met Alice and found out about Dr. Cassileth."
Alice urged her to meet with Dr. Cassileth and joined her at the consultation. Alice showed her breasts to Mary Beth during the consult. They looked so natural and perfect. Mary Beth, an artist herself, admired Dr. Cassileth's work. Mary Beth was also drawn to Dr. Cassileth's energy and frank honesty. It was refreshing. When she returned to her breast specialist team she told them about the one-stage immediate reconstruction.
"They didn't even know about what Dr. Cassileth is doing and they're only 10 miles down the road," she said. "This is the best kept secret for women."
One of the plastic surgeons said that he could place standard implants in one surgery but to add insult to injury, he could only make her smaller. Needless to say, Mary Beth changed her breast team so she could have the mastectomy and reconstruction in one surgery with Dr. Cassileth. The oncologist Dr. Cassileth works with turned out to be Christina Applegate's.
"They are rock stars," Mary Beth said. "Dr. Cassileth is a perfectionist."
A few months after her surgery, her sister in Idaho was diagnosed with breast cancer. Of course it was devastating but she had a rock star team to care for her younger sister. In telling her story, she hopes more women can learn about this one-stage breast reconstruction option.
"Before my surgery, I was insecure about my breasts," she said. "Today, I'm confident and no longer worried about the cancer coming back."