For many breast cancer patients across the U.S., mastectomies are a scary and necessary part of the fight to beat cancer. Stressed and striving to come to terms with the changes to their bodies, many survivors don’t know what to do next or what reconstruction options are available to them.
That’s where Lily Daniali, M.D., can help.
“I take my time to listen to my patients, their stories, and their needs,” said Dr. Daniali, a reconstructive surgeon with Colorado Breast and Plastic Surgery in Englewood, CO. “I have really honest conversations with them. I spend a lot of time educating them and collaborating with them so we can work together as a team to formulate a care plan that achieves their ultimate goals.”
Nearly every 2 minutes a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. That’s an estimated 720 women diagnosed with breast cancer every day and an average of 1 in every 8 women who will have breast cancer in her lifetime.
Breast cancer is a frightening possibility for everyone but, for women, it is a condition that leaves many of them with a lumpectomy (excision of a portion of the breast) or mastectomy (removal of one or both breasts) and, often, an altered sense of self, said Dr. Daniali.
“Our breasts are a part of our lives and, for many, it is part of our sense of wholeness,” she said. “Women going through breast cancer treatment have had breast tissue and lymph nodes removed and often have to manage radiation and post-radiation, along with chemotherapy. These women are warriors marching through these treatments, and I work hard to support their recovery and return them back to a life beyond breast cancer and reconstruction.”
Dr. Daniali encourages her patients to be open and honest with their feelings in order to come up with an individualized treatment plan that meets their mental and physical needs. Before a patient is accepted for reconstructive surgery, they meet with Dr. Daniali to discuss their expectations and goals. Some patients might disclose their anxiety or depression or that they’re having difficulty coping.
“You say with patients ‘you’re not alone’ and that involves making sure your patients are sleeping – that they’re not being debilitated by anxiety and depression,” she said. “This is super important because they can’t recover from surgery properly if they’re dealing with all those issues.”
Reconstruction is a discussion to start early in the treatment process whether it’s in conjunction with a mastectomy or later as a separate surgery. Dr. Daniali consults with other medical professionals involved in the care of the patient to formulate a treatment plan that works with the patient and for the patient. While sometimes those treatment plans include surgery, other times the right thing for a patient’s recovery may involve more physical therapy, sitting down with a therapist, or consulting with a pain specialist.
Dr Danilai shares, “I think patients can feel lost in the whole process at times because breast cancer care is interdisciplinary and can be complex, but reconstruction is always something to talk about. I work hard to keep things as simple as possible, and both I and the entire staff try to hold patients’ hands through the process.”
Breast reconstruction is a journey and no one person’s journey is ever the same, Dr. Daniali said.
“For me,” she said, “a success is when a patient says something like ‘This is better than what I had before’ or ‘I feel like I’m back to where I was.’ As a woman, you don’t normally go through your whole life fixated on your breasts. So it’s really important to me that my patients are able to move forward and get back to their normal daily lives beyond breast cancer.”
Colorado Breast and Plastic Surgery offers breast cancer reconstruction both immediate and delayed with:
- Autologous reconstruction
- Tissue expanders
- Fat grafting
- Revisionary breast reconstruction
- Nipple and areola reconstruction
- Reconstruction after explantation
To start formulating a treatment plan that is right for you, or for more information about the services offered at Colorado Breast and Plastic Surgery call us at 855-863-9595.
Colorado Breast and Plastic Surgery is an affiliate of Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America. Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America is the largest network of burn care in the United States with 15 locations in 8 states, including a full-service adult and pediatric burn center at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, CO. Each year, our centers treat more than 20 percent of the nation’s burn patients. For more information, visit our website at www.burncenters.com or visit our social media accounts on Facebook or LinkedIn.