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“You don't realize breasts mean so much to you until you don't have them. Once I got them back ... I couldn't believe I lived so long without them.”

Evlyn’s Story


Since she was in her mid-20s, Evlyn was accustomed to finding lumps in her breasts—which always turned out to be benign. But when she was 40, she went in for a mammogram for a lump she identified in her right breast. While that lump was benign, her doctors identified several other lumps with a different diagnosis.

“I was surprised that it was actually breast cancer this time. But I was happy that I actually went ahead and checked it out and didn't wait. I had four lumps in my right breast and three lumps in my left breast. And I was stage 3B on the right and stage 2 on the left.”

After years of monitoring, Evlyn chose to have a bilateral mastectomy. Her treatment plan included chemo and radiation following the mastectomy.

Evlyn initially struggled to find a local surgeon on Staten Island, NY who could perform the reconstruction she was looking for. She had a strong preference for natural tissue reconstruction to implants but couldn’t find a doctor she connected with.

“I decided to just do the bilateral mastectomy and live my life.”

Evlyn was also told that radiation would damage her skin and that if she didn’t opt for reconstruction now, it would not be possible after radiation therapy.

After her mastectomy, Evlyn went two years without reconstruction until a friend and colleague told her about Dr. Smith. Evlyn wasn’t sure she needed to pursue reconstruction, but then she realized how much her mastectomy was affecting her.

“One day I got dressed, and I was wearing this dress, and the dress form just made me look so terrible. Tears came to my eyes. I had not felt anything until that day. And then that's what made me call Dr. Smith.”

When Evlyn met with Dr. Smith, he proposed DIEP flap reconstruction, which he said was still possible despite her radiation treatment. After taking a couple of months to deliberate, Evlyn decided to move forward with the procedure. She felt confident working with Dr. Smith and his team.

He will always give you his best. He will help you to feel whole again. He will help you to feel like the person you were before.

Evlyn describes her recovery as “pretty uneventful.” She took time off from her role as a nurse until she recovered. And she feels transformed by the results of her reconstruction.

“I love it. I always tell anybody; I feel like I got my sexy back. I never really realized how I felt until I got my breasts.”

To other women, Evlyn recommends relying on family and the power of prayer. She was also surprised and touched by how much her work colleagues supported her through her breast cancer journey.

And she recommends that women consider breast reconstruction—whichever method they feel that they want.

You don't realize breasts mean so much to you until you don't have them. Once I got them back ... I couldn't believe I lived so long without them. Dr. Smith did that for me. He can make anyone happy.
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