Breast cancer patient finds the support to be a survivor From Spotlight on Health - Fall 2011
Pam Wostrel and her husband, Don
On Sept. 22, 2007, Pam Wostrel shaved her head to support her sister, Nancy, a breast cancer patient. Ten days later during Pam’s routine physical, a lump was discovered and Pam learned that she, too, had breast cancer.
Pam, Sauk Rapids, immediately met with the breast cancer care coordinator, Juli Sanner, RN, who explained her options. “The initial shock made all the information difficult to consider. Juli recommended I wait a couple of days to make my decision. Two days later, I decided I wasn’t going to let breast cancer beat me -- I will beat it!” said Pam.
Pam took into consideration the different types of cancer in her family (at the time of Pam’s diagnosis, her sister, Nancy, was going through the genetic testing to see if they had a genetic link to breast cancer). Her family history played a big part in deciding to have the bilateral mastectomy and Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) Flap breast reconstruction.
General surgeon Matthew Maunu, MD, and plastic surgeon, John Houle, MD, performed the mastectomy and DIEP Flap breast reconstruction on the left breast and three days later on the right breast at St. Cloud Hospital.
“I wanted to walk into the hospital with my own body and walk out with my own body,” Pam said.
Pam, 54, is in remission and attends the breast center support group through Coborn Cancer Center and sees her oncologist every six months. “It’s important to surround yourself with upbeat people and to keep a solid support group,” Pam said. “Luckily, I had my husband, Don, family and friends who helped and supported me.
“I’m a firm believer in early detection, finding the right doctor, setting goals for feeling better, laughing, smiling as much as you can and thanking God for giving you such caring people to surround you during your battle to beat cancer!”
DIEP Flap breast reconstruction is the most advanced form of breast reconstruction available today. The surgery uses the patient’s own abdominal skin and fat to reconstruct a natural, warm, soft breast after a mastectomy. The DIEP Flap preserves all the abdominal muscles. Only abdominal skin and fat are removed, similar to a “tummy tuck.” Patients experience less pain after surgery, enjoy a faster recovery and maintain their abdominal strength long-term with this muscle-sparing technique.
Learn more about the St. Cloud Hospital Breast Center