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Build-A-Boob …………..…. after the cure!

By Lisa Masters


Copyright Š 2013 by Lisa Masters. 129928-MAST ISBN: Softcover Ebook

978-1-4797-9582-6 978-1-4797-9583-3

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Rev. date: 03/05/2013 To order additional copies of this book, contact: Xlibris Corporation 1-888-795-4274 www.Xlibris.com Orders@Xlibris.com


Dedication To Whitney, Rachael and Justin‌‌ if nothing else, you have my love!


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Acknowledgements There are so very many people and organizations to thank for all that they do and/or have done. Thank you to the Susan G Komen Foundation, The American Cancer Society, Avon, LIVESTRONG, The Breast Cancer Foundation, and the millions of walkers, volunteers, and fundraisers who have given their time, money and physical torture, so to speak, for this cause. Without you, breast cancer awareness and the amount of research that has gone into today’s treatments and cures would not be what they are today. I also need to say thank you to my family, my ex-husband, my insurance company and all of my wonderful doctors. Without them I would never have made it through this “journey”. “Journey” sounds a bit cliché. Where I have been is more like a very long climb up, down and back up Mt. Everest in which I have finally reached the summit. There isn’t a lot of information about people who have dealt with unsuccessful reconstruction, nor is there much information about what can be done today. My plastic surgeon calls me his “poster child for breast reconstruction”; a title that I claim proudly. What he did over the course of 4 ½ years had not been written in the text books. I don’t know if it is today, but my other doctors seem to be completely amazed at the final product, as am I. I hope you will be too. He also tells me that only 5% of plastic surgeons even perform breast reconstructive surgeries. That’s pretty scary, especially for people like me. I realize


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there is not much money in reconstructive surgeries. The money is in elective surgeries (no insurance to deal with). Why bother? Please realize that without reconstruction, life for so many can be almost unbearable. In addition, there is little monetary help or support for those who cannot afford the numerous surgeries I had to go through and for those who cannot take time away from family or work to recover and heal. I am one of the lucky ones. Hopefully, with a little effort that will change for many of you. If we can raise money and awareness for the cure, we can also do it for the rebuilding of our breasts and of our lives. We must. I’m going to need a little help though. I also believe that the technique of using fat injections to regenerate damaged skin from radiation alone has far more reaching effects than just to reconstruct a breast. Imagine the possibilities. I see from just my skin how amazing and almost unbelievable the results are. I’m not a doctor but in my opinion, the importance of my story goes beyond the rebuilding of my breasts. The technique itself is not new; its’ usage is. Yes, it is very important to get my story out there for many women who suffer after breast cancer reconstruction goes wrong, but it’s equally important for the medical industry and the public to have access to this information. Too many people simply are not aware. I was invited to speak at a breast cancer symposium in Daytona Beach in September of 2012. A woman came up to me and thanked me for sharing my story. Her sister had been sent home from a major university medical hospital with a similar story and she was told there was nothing they could do for her. Again, I’m not a doctor, but perhaps there is more they can do. She and her sister had no idea that this technique was available. I’d like to say a special thank you to Leenie for her encouragement and advice. I’d also like to thank Eric Dean at EricDeanPhoto.com for my author photos. Last but not least, thank you Anne Marie for carrying me 40 miles.

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Manuscript Foreword for the book of Build-A-Boob by Lisa Masters It is with great pleasure, honor or humbleness that I have been asked to write a foreword on this exciting, impressive yet shocking account of Ms. Lisa Masters’ journey through her breast cancer and reconstruction. It is extremely humbling to me to have been Ms. Masters’ plastic and reconstructive surgeon during her journey and through our doctor-patient relationship, together; we were able to confront the challenges of bringing her back to her premorbid state and reconstruct her breasts. I remember from the very beginning, Ms. Masters and I established a solid doctor-patient relationship that is so necessary in order to succeed in this type of procedure. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeon’s statistics, breast reconstruction occupies only 5% of the overall procedures that we perform in our specialty. I find this low percentage not only shocking but completely unacceptable and concerning. Breast reconstruction is and should be a big part of plastic surgery. The enhancements in breast reconstruction continually evolve and new techniques and technology are allowing us, as surgeons, to offer our patients better surgical results. With this in mind, I would like to relate some words to my plastic surgery colleagues, our society and the government and insurance companies. To my colleagues, I ask, when you decided to go to medical school and completed your training and went on to establish your plastic surgery practice, do we not owe to our patients the best reconstructive options available to


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them regardless their age, income, ethnicity or religious beliefs? I strongly believe that every woman and also man should have the right to choose to undergo reconstruction. Neither insurance companies nor the government have the right to tell a patient what reconstructive choices they are entitled to or how many attempts they have in order to achieve the proper reconstruction that fulfills and fits their needs to become whole again. So to my colleagues I say, never quit on your patients‌never! Work together with your patients as a team. If plan A fails, think of plan B and maybe plan C or even plan D. As you will see in Ms. Masters’ story, she had to undergo several procedures before we achieved the final acceptable outcome for her case. Stay involved with the patient, see them often. For those families that have a loved one who has to go through this disease, stay involved with them. Only those who have been involved in a family situation that go through this understand how deplorable and difficult it can be to support their loved one through some of these procedures in order to achieve the best outcome. To the insurance company, I applaud Florida Health Care and the fact that they have always supported Ms. Lisa Masters and me as her surgeon throughout this lengthy process. I believe other insurance companies should follow this example. Breast reconstruction can be costly and because of the economy and plans to cut healthcare expenses, I am concerned that this might be a situation where breast reconstruction could be put on the back burner, creating a significant lack of support not only for the patients and their doctors but also a change in policies for insurance companies. I hope Ms. Masters’ story of success can reach and inspire many women that like herself will have to go through the journey of being diagnosed with breast cancer, surviving the disease and completing their breast reconstruction. I also hope that I the future every woman that unfortunately is diagnosed with breast cancer will continue to have the right to be reconstructed depend upon her anatomy, her abilities and above all her own choices. I am sure you will be enlightened at the end of this story. Sergio M. Zamora, M.D. Board Certified Plastic Surgery Surgeon, Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeon Member of the American of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Solo Practice, Daytona Beach Florida, USA

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Contents Chapter 1 - Vanity .....................................................................9 Chapter 2 - Long Before Cancer ............................................12 Chapter 3 – Insurance.............................................................15 Chapter 4 - The Beginning .....................................................18 Chapter 5 - Bilateral Mastectomy ...........................................24 Chapter 6 - It starts! ................................................................28 Chapter 7 - My Build-A-Boob .................................................34 Chapter 8 - 2nd Reconstructive Attempt ..................................37 Chapter 9 - Let’s Try Something Else .....................................44 Chapter 10 - Lipo to the Rescue .............................................48 Chapter 11 – Again-Seriously? ................................................53 Chapter 12 – Still Not Right ...................................................56 Chapter 13 – Reconstruction #15 ..........................................59 About the Author ....................................................................63


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Chapter 1 - Vanity I am one of millions; a breast cancer survivor. Cancer touches each of us. We all know someone who has been somehow affected by the disease. My story is not much different than millions of people who have been diagnosed, re-diagnosed, suffered, and/or treated with this disease. My story is a continuation of what happens to us after the treatments. How do we deal with breast reconstruction, if we choose to even have it? What happens when reconstruction goes terribly wrong (time after time) as in my case? The emotional toll it takes on us is tremendous. Most of us don’t want to talk about the scars left behind and even less of us are willing to share photos of those scars. I am compelled to share. We must break the silence. The photos are graphic. To this day, they even make me cringe when I see them. But, they need to be seen. They need to be seen not only by doctors, medical students; but by law makers, survivors, sisters, mothers, boyfriends and husbands. They also need to have a face attached to those photos; my face. The photos alone are not enough. Alone, they just look like grotesque medical photos. What I want is for you to see that there is a woman, a real person attached to those photos that looked the way I did and never gave up the hope of someday having breasts again. A 47 year old woman at that time and to this day values intimacy (sex) and could not bear the

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thought of living the rest of her life making love to any man looking the way I did. I want to look sexy. I want to be sexy. A friend of mine (a man) tells me that “It’s the person you love, not the body.”, but I think most of us know that looks are somewhat important, especially if you are single. If you don’t agree, check out some of the dating sites. I’m on a couple of them. For many of us, it’s not enough just to be alive. I have to say that even now, I still have fears of being rejected because of the scars that remain. And I’m the result of a great outcome. I can’t imagine the feelings of fear, rejection, shame, embarrassment and depression of those who are left with their reconstruction unfinished. The psychological effect is unimaginable and ongoing. The repercussions for putting this out there may have a negative impact on my finding a future potential mate as well. No one other than a few members of my immediate family and physicians really knew the deformities I lived with. I was ashamed of my body. I am afraid of how people will look at me after reading this. But I think it’s more important to let others know that they are not alone and I have yet to find a story or an article such as mine. I myself am somewhat vain (ok very vain). I am no stranger to plastic surgery. My vanity began with the desire for a smaller nose. It proceeded to a tummy tuck, a face lift, liposuction in my arms and legs. This all occurred prior to my first mammogram. To this day, I continue to receive my bi-annual rat poison and line fillers. For the sake of argument, let’s say that my vanity and my persistence in the end may be a help to others. I can live with that. I do not possess the self-confidence or self-esteem as I have indicated to live the rest of my life without something that resembles breasts. That would take years of therapy to undo and another book or two to either read or write. I want two breasts. And…..I want them perfect. That’s my problem…no one else’s. There are many women who don’t have the financial means necessary to go through the number of surgeries I did. There are many women who don’t have the time available for recovery and there are many women who just don’t give a damn. I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who don’t care or wish to have breast reconstruction at all. I truly do. I’m just not one of them. I’ve been criticized for pursuing this for as long as I did, but I don’t think it’s fair to say to me that my desire and willingness to endure what I did to have breasts is wrong. We all have to make our own choices in recovery as well as in treatment without judgments. There are also many of you that are or were not considered candidates for reconstruction. Who knows where you may fall today. With my outcome, there may be more help out there for you than you think. Talk to your doctors. If they tell you there is nothing they can do, find another one. Each day there are newer and better techniques being developed and used to treat and restore almost anything. Liposuction can do more than just make your legs thinner. If it’s important to you then you must never give up. I developed large breasts at an early age and by the time I was in 8th grade I was at least a D cup. I was the girl with the big boobs. Most of my life, I defined myself by my breasts. I suppose many of us (and the men we pursue and/or pursue us) do since breast augmentation is such a common and highly sought after procedure. Don’t get me wrong. Breasts are


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great. I know that all too well. I just think it’s unfortunate that we as a society place such an importance on their size. On the other hand, I appreciate all of the women who have had breast augmentations that have gone before me. They helped get my doctor to the place I needed him to be. My large breasts always brought me a lot of attention from men; some women, but mostly men. I really enjoyed the attention, but at the same time I had always wished for a breast reduction. There were so many clothes I couldn’t wear. I couldn’t wear the cute little tops with spaghetti straps, or anything that buttoned up the front because of the gaps. I had to wear two bras to run. I used to lift them up with my hands, turn sideways towards the mirror and say “Look how skinny I would be without these!” Big boobs really do make you look fatter. And, as I got older, gravity began pulling them down towards my knees. Be careful what you wish for! After 4 1/2 years and 15 reconstructive surgeries, my breasts are really close to where I want them to be. My hope in telling my story and sharing my pictures is to offer hope to others who have had reconstructive failure after failure as I did, or were told it was impossible to achieve what they wanted. I have been fortunate to have this incredible doctor and this incredible insurance company that refused to give up. I cannot imagine the life I would have had to live had it not been for them.

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Build-A-Boob - by Lisa Masters  

“Build-A-Boob…..”is the inspirational story of Lisa Masters’ successful journey to rebuild her breasts after breast cancer radiation treatme...