Peggy’s story: My breast reconstruction journey
Monday, August 29, 2016
When Peggy Alexander learned she had breast cancer, things got kind of crazy.
But they didn’t stay crazy for long. Within a week of her diagnosis, she met the woman who eventually would restore her appearance after a double mastectomy. After that meeting, the whirlwind calmed.
Alexander, who lives near Freedom, was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2014.
Shortly thereafter, while still planning her breast cancer treatment, she had her first meeting with Dr. Elizabeth A. O’Connor, a surgeon specializing in breast reconstruction with Plastic Surgery & Skin Specialists by BayCare Clinic.
“After I first met with her, there was no question in my mind,” Alexander said.
“I went to the office, and I was feeling weird about it because I was still me. I still had everything intact. She came in and she set me at ease,” she said of O’Connor.
“I didn’t know what to expect. So I said, ‘Can you show me what I am going to look like when I’m done?’ She said, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ She sat down with the laptop, walked me through it. I was like, OK, I can handle this. Sign me up. Honestly, after that, I didn’t think twice about this. There was no other option for me.”
After five months of chemotherapy, Alexander had a double mastectomy in May 2015. During that surgery, O’Connor started preparations for the breast reconstruction, which then was still months away. Alexander’s breast reconstruction surgery took place in September 2015.
Alexander is thrilled with the results.
“I feel whole and I feel complete again,” she said.
“I knew it was going to be a journey, and having that surgery at the end of it – my reconstruction was at the end – it just gave me a feeling of completeness. And I was like, ‘OK, I’m done. I can move on.’ The scars? Battle wounds, and they’re not that bad, and they keep fading. It was definitely worth it. I wouldn’t even think twice about recommending it to somebody else.”
Alexander also is delighted with O’Connor’s expertise.
“At no time was I ever uncomfortable, which is amazing, to say the least,” Alexander said. “To just be that up front with your surgeon about what’s going on, what’s freaking you out, and asking questions, amazing. And I felt so comfortable doing that.”
That comfort level during what Alexander calls “a crazy experience that turned into a positive experience” made all the difference.
“My experience could have been very different,” she said. “Having Dr. O’Connor and her team of people on my side was invaluable. It made the whole experience feel safe, which I think is so important.”
Besides, Alexander says, “having a woman surgeon is pretty cool.”
Dr. Elizabeth A. O’Connor sees patients in Green Bay and Oshkosh. To request an appointment, call 920-288-8240 or 866-726-8200 in Green Bay or 920-569-1506 in Oshkosh, or do so online.
Elizabeth A. O’Connor, MD, received her medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. She completed her residency in plastic surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Dr. O’Connor is fellowship trained in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Breast Surgery. Learn more about her here.