Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Reconstruction - Brookings Health System

My name is Linda Peterson and I am from Brookings. My husband and I both have motorcycle so we like to do some motorcycle riding. I have twin boys that drive race cars, so of course the summer time is spent watching them race. My youngest son just brought our first grandchild into the world so I'm very excited to have a granddaughter to spoil.


What Was Your Diagnosis?

In December, I had bilateral mastectomy and started the process for breast reconstruction. We found out in October that I was diagnosed with stage two, grade two breast cancer so we opted to do the bilateral mastectomy as the first in the treatment.


What Different Procedures Did Dr. Oey and Dr. Howard Perform?

When I first started my treatment, by doing the bilateral mastectomy, Dr. Oey-Devine's purpose was to do the tissue removal. She was going to remove the tumor. Dr. Howard's role was to start the process for reconstruction. By doing that, he placed some tissue expanders between the muscles in my chest. And then weekly, they were injected with saline solution to make a pocket for implants that will be put in in September-ish time frame.


What Support Did the Staff Provide?

After coming back to my room after having surgery, I remember hearing a lot of things but I don't remember seeing very much. I was having a very hard time waking up. And in addition to that, I'd had a very bad migraine so I did hear a lot of what the nurses were saying and I don't think I had ever encountered... I don't know what my nurse's name was but the compassion and the care that she showed all during the night, that first night after coming back to the room and starting to wake up, she was absolutely phenomenal. And the nurses that I had during the day, I was so amazed and so pleasantly surprised at the care and compassion that they had. Again, I didn't feel like I was a patient. I felt like I was a person and they genuinely cared about me and how I was recovering and not just another patient.


How Did the Reconstruction Process Work?

Both procedures were started on the first day. Preparing for the implant is something that's been ongoing, so each week starting with second week after surgery, I went to see Dr. Howard. He did an injection. They would inject 60 cc of saline solution at a time. After I got a couple of those done in his office in Sioux Falls, he had taught Dr. Oey-Devine how to do that so then I was able to continue that portion of my treatment in Brookings on a weekly basis. I did have to take chemotherapy.

So during the chemo treatments, the tissue expander portion of the reconstruction was put on hold. So then once the chemo was over, then I was able to resume that. So being able to do that, take that weekly appointment, take advantage of doing that in Brookings instead of going to Sioux Falls every week is a considerable cost savings when you are dealing with an illness and that amount of time that you are missing from work having just that option of saving so much money by doing it here. The two of them working so well together was the very significant portion also of my treatment.


What Did You Appreciate About Working With Your Doctors?

What I really appreciated is when I had my mastectomy, all of the paperwork had not yet been completed for Dr. Howard to actually start his practice in Brookings. He was going to start that in January but he worked with the hospital to give him special privileges in order to be able to do my surgery.


Would You Recommend Brookings Health System?

I would absolutely recommend Brookings Health System for any care, not just for breast reconstruction but any procedure that someone might be considering. I have been truly blessed to have been placed in the care of Dr. Oey-Devine and Dr. Howard. I don't think this treatment could have gone nearly as well as it did if I didn't feel that they had a vested interest in me as a person and not just as their patient.