Two Surgeons Provide Confidence for Cancer Patient
Dawn Hamilton had been through a cancer journey before. The 47-year-old Carthage, S.D. woman had been diagnosed in 2012, and the low-grade breast cancer she faced required a lumpectomy and radiation.
But during a routine follow-up exam in February, her mammogram indicated the cancer had returned. She again met with the surgeon who had helped her before, Julie Reiland, MD, breast surgeon with Avera Medical Group Comprehensive Breast Care.
“As breast surgeons, we make our incisions knowing we may need to plan for that day, down the road when another cancer may come up. Not all breast surgeons take this important step,” Reiland said. “For Dawn, that day did come, and because we took that consideration the first time, it helped to make it not so devastating this second time.”
Barry Martin, MD
Reiland, along with Barry Martin, MD, Avera Medical Group plastic and reconstructive surgeon, spent time with Hamilton to review the possible next steps. Using oncoplastic surgical techniques, Reiland performed the lumpectomy, along with repair of a defect and a breast lift. Beyond removing the cancer, these steps gave Hamilton the best cosmetic results with a normal appearing breast, even after the cancer surgery.
Even though it’s rare for a second breast cancer to develop, the forethought of her doctors led her to have the best chances for good cosmetic results.
“I was confident in Dr. Reiland and she recommended that Dr. Martin consult with us, and together they really put me at ease,” Hamilton said. “They explained the options, and they provided me with confidence. They never really pressured me to feel I had to go in one direction or another – I really felt like I made the decision.”
Reiland said the great care taken during Hamilton’s 2012 surgery, made a successful nipple-sparing mastectomy easier to attain. After Reiland completed her mastectomy, Martin finished the reconstructive portion of Hamilton’s care while she was still in surgery.
“Dr. Reiland’s job is to beat the cancer, and her effective surgical accuracy allowed me to create a breast afterward,” said Martin. “Our treatment of cancer is holistic, and part of that approach is to consider that Dawn, once she gets past the cancer, can avoid a life with disfiguring scars or unacceptable cosmetic results. So by working together for her, Dawn should have few if any reminders of this challenging time.”
The two-physician team approach, along with the full Avera Cancer Institute team that backs up Martin and Reiland, gave Hamilton a uniquely “tailored for just her” result that she’s thankful for.
“In the long run, what they did, overall for me, was best, but no two cancers are the same,” she said. “I know I’m in great hands with my surgery team, and considering the circumstances of my health, the confidence their plan for me provided was a real difference-maker for me.”
Hamilton also reflected on the combined expertise in the Avera Cancer Institute’s weekly tumor conferences. All that expertise, all in one room and all focused on her breast cancer – elevated the possibility of success in her overall outcome.
“It all started with my mother’s diagnosis in 2012, and me thinking I should probably have a mammogram as well, and that was a blessing in disguise,” she said. “It turned out I too had breast cancer and now that we’ve addressed it, I have come to realize just how important that exam was for me.”