Home' Southern Health News : October 2014 Contents The southern Adelaide resident and registered
nurse, is among, 40 women this year to receive
breast reconstruction surgery at Flinders Medical
Centre (FMC) – the state’s busiest breast cancer
She is also among a steadily growing number of
Australian women opting to have their breasts
reconstructed following surgery.
Marcelle recalls the moment in March 2013 when
a doctor first delivered her breast cancer diagnosis.
“I just froze,” she said. “It was like she had given
me a death sentence.”
Marcelle was diagnosed with ‘Ductal carcinoma in
situ’ in her left breast – a cancer contained in the
milk ducts. Surgery to fully remove her left breast
(also known as a mastectomy) was identified as her
best treatment option.
While, historically, treatment has been the key
focus following diagnosis, an increasing number
of hospitals are providing early education about
reconstruction, recognising its importance in
helping women recover from the physical and
psychological trauma of a mastectomy. Keen
to improve services for women surviving breast
cancer, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr.
Nicola Dean led the establishment of a dedicated
breast reconstruction service at FMC in 2008.
In a series of meetings with Dr Dean and FMC
Breast Surgeon Dr Stephen Birrell, Marcelle
elected to have an immediate breast reconstruction
using her own skin and muscle tissue – an option
she had been completely unaware of.
“I felt so empowered after coming out of my first
meeting,” she said.
“I was so happy that I could choose tissue from
my own body, I had no idea that this type of
reconstruction was available. I feel comfortable
knowing that the bulk of it is really me.”
On 20 August 2013, in one procedure, the
surgeons carried out a full mastectomy and
reconstructed Marcelle’s breast using a large
muscle on her back called the latissimus dorsi.
A few months later, she underwent the same
procedure on her right breast after she was found
to be at very high risk of having the same cancer
on that side.
Almost 12 months on, Marcelle is preparing for her
final reconstructive procedure – the reconstruction
of her nipples – at FMC this month.
“Some people said, ‘How could you be bothered?’.
But I think I’m still too young to be walking around
with no bust line,” she said. “It makes me feel
like a woman. It makes me feel like me, it’s your
identity and confirms who we are as women.”
Driven by consumer demand, the Flinders Breast
Reconstruction Clinic will this month host a
statewide Breast Reconstruction Information
Evening at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in
“So many women have said to me ‘I wish I
had been given this information before I had
my mastectomy’, and felt it would have been
comforting to know that once they had been
through the mastectomy, these were the options
available to them,” FMC Specialist Breast
Reconstruction Nurse Andrea Smallman said.
Flinders Medical Centre leading better
patient education on breast reconstruction
BY KYLA GOODFELLOW
For 52-year-old Marcelle Woodman, completing her breast reconstruction journey this month will mark the final chapter in a
two year battle with cancer and an emotional return to her pre-cancer self.
“They say it may have helped them to get through
that tortuous time of mastectomy, chemotherapy
Dr Dean said a steady rise in women choosing
reconstruction, due to the advent of genetic
testing and changing expectations, created further
need for an awareness event.
At FMC, the number of reconstructions has
increased from about 10 cases in 2006 to more
than 60 in 2013. Nationally, cases have risen from
6 per cent of all women who had mastectomies in
1999 to 12 per cent in 2013.
“There’s also a change in the profile of breast
cancer. There are more young women with breast
cancer who are probably more likely to have a
reconstruction,” Dr Dean said.
The Breast Reconstruction Information
Evening will be held in the ground floor
meeting room at the Flinders Centre for
Innovation in Cancer on Wednesday
22 October 2014 from 6pm until 9pm. It will
feature information stalls covering all facets
of the reconstruction journey, with medical
experts, support groups and patients on
hand to respond to questions. For more
information, call Andrea on 8204 7289.
Marcelle Woodman, 52, with
Dr Nicola Dean at Flinders
Medical Centre’s Breast
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / OCTOBER 2014 / 11
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