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Innovative breast reconstruction surgery helps cancer survivor feel whole again

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and survival is top priority after diagnosis.

One survivor says she wasn’t satisfied with her “new normal” until an innovative surgery helped her feel whole again.

Sixty-two-year-old Mariann Lotenero is a cancer survivor.

She did everything doctors told her to do to rid herself of the disease after her diagnosis in 2011.

“A bilateral mastectomy, double mastectomies and then reconstruction with implants. I was having, like, tightness and pulling. Sometimes it felt like an ace bandage around my chest, but I didn’t have cancer, so you just learn to live with things,” she said.

Her reconstructed breasts were numb, uncomfortable and contained implants that constantly felt cold.

“The return to normalcy, whatever that is, as close as you can get it, is kind of important,” said Lotenero.

So her doctor at Cleveland Clinic suggested a revolutionary breast reconstruction. Surgeons removed the implants and replaced them with tissue and nerves from her abdomen.

“We take that abundant tissue, then we relocate it into the breast. We can also locate and preserve the nerve from the abdomen and then look for the nerve in the chest and then reconnect them together,” said Dr. Risal Djohan with Cleveland Clinic.

After surgery, feeling returned slowly and continues to improve two years later.

“I forget I had cancer,” said Lotenero, on the verge of tears, finally able to put cancer to bed.

Newly diagnosed women who qualify for the surgery only have to undergo one procedure. Doctors note the surgery is only available at a handful of centers around the world, including in Fort Myers and Naples.

WINK News is a proud sponsor of the Make Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. This year’s walk is on Oct. 19 at the Mirormar Outlets. For more information on the walk, click here.

 

Writer:Briana Harvath
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