A collection of interviews with and stories from women who have been affected by breast reconstruction
Lateral Intercostal Artery Perforator (LICAP) flap
I was diagnosed on 1st April 2021 with DCIS [Ductal Carcinoma In Situ].
Whilst in the hospital waiting room, wondering what my biopsy result could be, I tried to prepare myself that I may have cancer. I imagined how I would be told and thought my consultant would say: “Jayne, sorry but you have cancer.”
But he didn’t use the words I was expecting to hear and that really threw me (he never said sorry, it’s bad news). I just couldn’t follow what he said next.
I wasn’t in control. I wasn’t coherent. Was that actually me sitting on that chair in that room? I heard the words “surgery” and “radiotherapy” so I thought I must have cancer.
It was afterwards that my breast care nurse explained that DCIS is where cancer is in the breast duct and was grade 0, which means it doesn’t appear to have spread out of the duct.
My surgical options were discussed at the next appointment; I was beginning to digest and understand my diagnosis by then and had taken ownership of my cancer. That was really important for me to be proportionate. Actually, saying out loud: “I have cancer” was a great step forward. I felt lucky that it had been caught early on a routine mammogram.
I didn’t need chemotherapy, which was a great relief.
I remember the night before my appointment where I would discuss my surgical decision with him, I felt bewildered, it’s such a big decision to make.
I was really in a pickle by the time I saw him, I was flip flopping between the options. He gave me lots of time to think and showed me photos of a new reconstruction surgery, he showed me photos of a former patient but there was nothing on the internet or in a leaflet, so I had to take the image in my head and try and remember what the scar looked like.
He offered me a surgery called “LICAP” which is where fat/tissue from under my arm is used to replace lost breast tissue to give shape and size back. The surgery was in two stages; he would firstly remove the cancer, then two weeks later, if the histology was good, he would perform the reconstruction (LICAP).
The scar radiates along my bra line and up to my shoulder blade.
The surgery was a huge success and when my son saw it, he said: “It’s a miracle Mum, your breast looks better than before.” When I saw my surgeon 10 days later, I was so excited to show him how good I looked, we both beamed at each other with happiness and joy! I have since had professional photos taken of my breast and scar and hope that Keeping Abreast and Macmillan can show them to women who may be offered this new surgery.
I had radiotherapy a couple of months after surgery. I had 15 sessions and I so far haven’t noticed any shrinkage in breast size, which is common. The radiotherapists were so kind and caring and made me feel special. I actually enjoyed going, as in lockdown it was nice to get out and see people and enjoy a conversation and some good humour. I didn’t have any side effects and feel extremely lucky. I went back to work about three weeks after treatment.
I will have a mammogram one year after my surgery and I always think the cancer could come back, but I am so happy with the care I have, I feel in good hands if it does. I wish anyone reading this the warmest of wishes for your treatment and if you ever feel lonely or scared, please tap into Keeping Abreast, Macmillan or any of the other charities, they are wonderful!
Photos by Luca Sage.
Keeping Abreast was established in September 2007 by patients Anna Beckingham and Beverley Birritteri and Breast Reconstruction nurse specialist Ruth Harcourt. They recognised a great need for women, both newly diagnosed with breast cancer and facing the possibility of mastectomy, and also women further down the line who are also considering reconstructive surgery, to be able to meet and talk to other women who have been through similar experiences. This allows women make an informed choice about whether or not to proceed with breast reconstruction.
© 2021 © Keeping Abreast Breast Cancer Reconstruction Support Group, registered charity number: 1129522. Registered office: M&A Partners, 7 The Close, Norwich, NR1 4DJ