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Thinking back to her cancer diagnosis, Hamila Lotfi says her double mastectomy was the easy part. In fact, it was the decision to have breast reconstruction the following year that proved much more difficult.
“The mastectomy had to be done, but reconstruction was a choice, not a necessity,” says the Toronto resident. She feared it was a choice rife with excruciating pain, a long recovery and separation from her family, especially her 10-year-old son, who worried every time his mother entered the hospital.
I figured for 10 days to two weeks, I’d be at home in agony. But there was no pain the next day… It was amazing.”
All concerns were put to rest the minute Hamila met with Dr. John Semple, Women’s College Hospital’s chief of surgery. With chemotherapy and radiation now behind her, Hamila was a candidate for a groundbreaking approach to breast reconstruction. TRAM (transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous) flap surgery uses abdominal skin, fat and muscle tissue to reconstruct the breast. This procedure is being executed at Women’s College Hospital with minimal discomfort, a short patient stay and safe recovery at home.
“It was a miracle,” says Hamila, who underwent the procedure in 2010. “I can’t tell you how happy I am with the decision.”
Not only was Hamila back home with her family within 18 hours (the national average for breast reconstruction is six days), she was able to return to work after just three weeks – three weeks sooner than expected. This innovative surgery allows women to recover at home faster and with fewer complications.
“Who would have thought this was even possible?” Hamila asks. “It’s so important to help patients take control and get their lives back.”
She credits Women’s College Hospital with helping her do exactly that.