Barbara living her best life

02 November 2021

(Southern Health News, September 2021)

When Barbara found a lump in an unusual position on her breast back in 2013 she didn’t think too much of it, but had a scan just to be on the safe side.

To her complete shock she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer.

“I was devastated. I just wasn’t expecting to hear this news,” said Barbara.

With the support of her husband and two daughters the cancer battle began.

Barbara had her right breast removed (mastectomy) and not long after had her left breast removed to make her feel more comfortable and reduce any further risk of breast cancer.

After nearly two years Barbara decided that she would undergo breast reconstruction surgery.

Breast reconstruction surgery recreates the shape of the breast following a mastectomy. It can be performed at the same time as your surgery or as a delayed procedure at a later time, even many years later. There are many different options available for reconstruction and much to consider so it can seem overwhelming.

“I found the whole process daunting at first, but I was so happy with the end result,” said Barbara.

“I would highly recommend to all patients considering this process to talk about all your surgery options and speak to other women that have been through it.

“The more informed you are the better the result and I couldn’t be happier.”

The Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Plastic Surgery Department has a dedicated Breast Reconstruction Unit located in the Breast and Endocrine Clinic.

“The staff at FMC were brilliant from Dr Nicola Dean who performed the surgery to Nurse Practitioner Andrea Smallman.

“Andrea was absolutely wonderful not only post-surgery but with her advice and support,” said Barbara.

Andrea has been a Nurse Practitioner/Breast reconstruction at FMC for 10 years, and has nothing but praise for Barbara.

“Following completion of her breast reconstruction, Barbara kindly volunteered to join our Breast Reconstruction Unit Consumer Research Forum where she provides advice and support to other women considering the surgery,” said Andrea.

“She also provides our clinician team with helpful feedback on our service from a consumer perspective and has often met with FMC nursing staff to share her personal experience. Nurses reported to back to me that they learned so much about breast cancer and reconstruction from listening to Barbara,” said Andrea.

Barbara is now eight years cancer free.