If you are like me and many other women, breast care is nerve-racking. There is always a fear of what breast screening tests will find. I know many women who won't even have a mammography due to their paralyzing fear about breast cancer. From my first visit to the Breast Reconstruction Center of New Jersey, I knew I was in the right place.
The doctors at BRC are not the "dreaded doctor" types who spend a few hurried minutes with a patient; most of those spent reading your case history for the first time. BRC doctors are anything but! As a matter of fact, the caring hands of these breast specialists helped me through a very difficult time. They were always accessible and took great care in answering all of my questions. For someone newly diagnosed with breast cancer, this attention was very comforting. I know now that I was not a good patient during the first few months. I was like a deer in the headlights, not able to think clearly at the time.
As I recognize now, my case was and continues to be unique, so the standard protocols are not easily relied on. This is why the sound and well-reasoned judgment provided by my Breast Reconstruction Center physicians has repeatedly served me so well. I am thankful for Dr. Nancy Elliott, my breast surgeon, and Dr. Allen Rosen, my plastic surgeon, both affiliated with Breast Reconstruction Center of New Jersey, for taking the time to make me feel as though I am their only patient. I never feel rushed. Sad to say, this is a rare find with doctors these days and truly a gift.
Here is little part of my story:
I began having annual screening mammograms when I was 40 years old. In 2005 I switched to Montclair Breast Center, in the same facility as the Breast Reconstruction Center of New Jersey, after seeing ads and several TV news reports of "a better mammogram", i.e., digital mammography. I already knew that I had an issue with dense breasts and wanted to be sure that I was getting the best mammogram possible. Montclair Breast Center was the only breast center that had digital mammography at the time (I called 6 major hospitals in New Jersey). I recall thinking, "Can you image, living in the New York metro area and there is only one facility that provides a digital mammogram? So, I switched to Montclair Breast Center and have never regretted that decision.
During my first visit to BRC, I vividly remember having my mammogram results reviewed and explained to me by the radiologist before I left the office, which was amazing! I didn't have to wait weeks for the results or to receive a scary notice to come in for a follow up mammogram. Before Montclair Breast Center, a follow up mammogram required a doctor's referral and scheduling another visit to the radiologist, which could take weeks; a very frustrating process that was so stressful and irritating I often thought about skipping the annual screening altogether! That was not smart.
Returning for my next annual mammogram, Dr. Lee advised me to have an ultrasound every six months due to the density of my breast tissue. I agreed and was put on a six-month screening cycle; February mammogram and August ultrasound. Another amazing and insightful benefit to working with the Breast Reconstruction Center of NJ — I was having breast ultrasound due to dense breast tissue years before many of my contemporaries even knew about such a thing!
Here comes the most surprising and best part of my story:
After reading my glowing reviews about the Breast Reconstruction Center of New Jersey, Montclair Breast Center and Dr. Elliott, you will be surprised to learn that I elected to have the surgery with another breast surgeon at a large medical facility in New Jersey. This was an error on my part. I did not remember that Dr. Elliott had surgical privileges at several area hospitals I might have selected and I elected to have the surgery at a facility closer to my home, where she did not practice.
Using Dr. Elliott as a constant counsel through this entire ordeal, I explained my new concern to her over the phone. AGAIN, she said "Come in, we'll talk." She had my pathology sent to a world-renowned specialist for a second opinion. With my original biopsy amplified so we could assess the markers of the cancer, Dr. Elliott suggested a re-excision she would perform just to be sure the cancer was removed. She also suggested plastic surgery following the lumpectomy with Dr. Rosen of The Plastic Surgery Group, also affiliated with the Breast Reconstruction Center of New Jersey. Dr. Elliott and Dr. Rosen performed my second breast surgery. I believe this saved my life.
My surgery was a success. No additional breast cancer was found and I went on for radiation. I had no chemotherapy. I was very lucky. I have been going to Montclair Breast Center for all of my on-going screening and I have been cancer free. Also, since this ordeal I tell everyone, "A good plastic surgeon can change the face of a chronic and possibly deforming disease, such as breast cancer." Highly skilled plastic surgeons like Dr. Rosen have changed the face of breast cancer. What a blessing. Too often, we are bombarded with information about plastic horror stories and "extreme makeovers" rather than the wonderful advances being made by good plastic surgeons like Dr. Rosen.
This is why I will always come to the Breast Reconstruction Center of New Jersey. I feel I am getting the best quality breast care here. I have an excellent and consistent team of doctors who monitor my MRI's, ultrasounds, and mammograms. I trust their collective medical judgment. And I know they will take good care of me. Surviving breast cancer is one thing. I want to be sure that if breast cancer returns or I have a new cancer, it will be caught at the earliest possible stage.