The Hidden Scar® Patient Perspective: A Guest Blog by Breast Cancer Survivor Andrea Cotter

What happened when I found out I had breast cancer? Well, let me see. It felt like I’d taken a huge punch to the gut. I thought I might have dodged that one, but no, here it was: breast cancer. I walked around in a state of disbelief for a day or so imagining that it was someone else’s mammogram mistaken for mine. But it was mine. I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Ductal Carcinoma in late 2015, right after Breast Cancer Awareness Month and right after my annual mammogram. It was almost Christmas, and I was pretty much in shock.

On my care team:While my diagnosis occurred in another city, I knew immediately, based on the seriousness of it, that I would obtain a second opinion in New York City at Weill Cornell Breast Center. My partner works at Weill Cornell and he helped me consider that as my best option for treatment.

My surgery and oncology team at Weill Cornell, Drs. Simmons and Cigler, provided an amazing amount of support both physically and mentally. They communicated with each other and with me so that I knew, at all times, exactly what was going to happen next and what was my outcome at each stage. Their confidence and experience made me feel that I was being guided in the best possible way. I even had free yoga sessions available to me at the Breast Center and via phone to ease the stress and exhaustion during my treatment.

What I didn’t yet know is that the Chief of Breast Cancer Surgery at Weill Cornell, Dr. Rache Simmons, is trained in the techniques and enabling technology of Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery. In fact, I didn’t even know such a technique existed. I thought only of mastectomies in association with breast cancer, and I was very frightened. The fact that Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery existed changed what could have been an even more traumatic experience into one that gave me hope, even considering the chemotherapy, hair loss, lumpectomy, and radiation.

What I wish I knew when I was diagnosed and what I would say to any other breast cancer patient are these five things:

  1. That HER2 positive breast cancer treatment can follow many different treatment protocols depending on the experience of the surgical and oncology team treating you.
  2. To ask for or inquire about Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery by name.
  3. That breast cancer is not so much about the threat of cancer as we think.
  4. That I could let myself be private about my illness, but yet when the time was right, to seek support from my most trusted friends and family.
  5. That I could give myself permission to take the time to heal without making any excuses for myself.

I think of myself as a survivor of life and yes, hopefully, as thriving. Although, “thrivership” can be intimidating to those who don’t feel like they are thriving much. We all go through life the best we can given the circumstances we are dealt. And, what we have within our power to do for ourselves is to find the best advisors and mentors to assist us when we need help.

If I have one message for women in general, it is to say, “It’s OK to ask for help.” Going it alone in life’s darkest moments can be so frightening and so limiting. As far as recovering from breast cancer goes, I don’t know that I have yet. The way I think about it is, “So far, so good.” I am optimistic but realistically aware that things can change. I am lucky to have a trusted team of advisors and mentors nearby. And, I am happy to help anyone else understand how to build a similar team.

Hidden Scar® Surgery- A new technique minimizes patients’ visual reminders of cancer

An article from Lifebridge Health: A Healthy Dose Fall 2017 featuring Dona C. Hobart, MD, Medical Director Center for Breast Health, Carroll Hospital Center, Clinical Liason Physician, LifeBridge Health System

When it comes down to it, a bug bite helped detect Gayla Fulcher’s breast cancer. In August 2016, Fulcher noticed the redness from a bug bite moving up her arm. She visited her primary care doctor, who advised her to get a sonogram of the bite area—and also encouraged her to get the mammogram Fulcher had been putting off.


The 3D mammogram she had at Advanced Radiology a few days later revealed a small lesion in her breast. She sought the services of breast surgeon Dona Hobart, M.D., and the Center for Breast Health at Carroll Hospital for her care. “I wanted to go to the breast center because I liked the value of a coordinated center for breast care,” says Fulcher.


After a biopsy determined it was cancer, Dr. Hobart, medical director of the Center for Breast Health, performed a lumpectomy using the Hidden Scar technique. This approach gives surgeons the ability to perform lumpectomies and nipple sparing mastectomies with less visible scarring. Dr. Hobart also has pioneered using this approach in placing ports in patients’ chests to administer chemotherapy, which has the potential to help more than just breast cancer patients. She will be presenting a video on Hidden Scar port placements at a meeting of the American College of Surgeons in San Diego this fall.


“At my age, I wasn’t as concerned with the cosmetic appearance at the time,” says Fulcher, 75. “But once I realized I was going to have surgery I started to think differently.”


After recovering from her surgery, Fulcher had to put on her reading glasses to see the mark from the incision. “It was just a faint little red scar,” she remembers. “I was absolutely amazed

that that’s all it was.”


As a cancer survivor herself, Dr. Hobart understands the importance of Hidden Scar breast surgery. “It’s an interesting thing. It’s not about the scar,” she says. “It’s the fact that every time you look at yourself, you have this reminder of the cancer. It’s similar with losing your hair from chemotherapy. Most of the time it really isn’t that you lost your hair. It’s the fact that you are labeled a cancer patient everywhere you go.”


This surgery may require a bit more recovery time, says Dr. Hobart, and those with other health conditions or who are not concerned about scarring might benefit from other traditional surgical methods.


Fulcher is pleased with her decision. “I’m very blessed to have had Dr. Hobart do the surgery and to have had this caught as early as it was with Advanced Radiology,” she says. And now she’s not shy to remind the women in her life to get regular exams. “Every time I talk to somebody, I’m sure they’re getting tired of hearing me ask ‘Have you had your 3D mammogram yet?’ It’s really that important.”


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Invuity, Inc.

Now You See It… Now You Don’t

How breast cancer surgery is revolutionizing a woman’s cosmetic outcome—and confidence.

By Dr. Anne Kobbermann, M.D., Board-certified and Fellowship-trained Breast Surgical Oncologist, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Overland Park Regional, Overland Park, Kansas, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park, Kansas

As a breast surgical oncologist who has worked with hundreds of women facing breast cancer, each conversation I have with a patient is unique because each woman possesses her own personal history, circumstances and life experiences. They come to my office with different concerns, questions and fears, but inevitably I’m asked “What about the scar?”

While some women are empowered by breast surgery scars, regarding them as a symbol of beating the cancer, for many, scars serve as troubling visual reminders of the disease.

Studies have shown that scars can significantly impact a woman’s psychological and emotional recovery—and even subsequent quality of life—post-surgery. Scars frequently have a direct correlation to a woman’s self-confidence level, her approach to intimacy and overall body image. Cosmetic outcomes for my patients are a priority, but until recently, I couldn’t always ease the minds of my nipple-sparing mastectomy and lumpectomy patients.

As a Hidden Scar-trained surgeon, I can now perform the advanced surgical technique that treats breast cancer as effectively as traditional breast cancer surgery.  My first candidate was Vicky, a 53-year-old woman whose mother had passed from breast cancer.  Vicky was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 6, 2016, and later confided that she did something very uncharacteristic for her personality: she didn’t conduct an ounce of research on treatments and outcomes and everything else that goes along with the disease.

“The whole prominent scar thing associated with breast surgery didn’t even occur to me—I was determined to focus on positivity during my cancer journey,” she shared.

Of course, we did address scarring when I presented Vicky with the Hidden Scar surgical option.

In December 2016, I did Vicky’s partial mastectomy using Hidden Scar, removing the cancerous tissue through a single incision made in a discreet location, resulting in the “hidden scar.” The procedure helped to preserve a natural-looking breast post-surgery by sparing the nipple, areola and surrounding tissue.

During Vicky’s first follow-up appointment after surgery, she was elated.

“It was amazing to not only have my breast intact, but to have the scar not even visible,” Vicky told me. “It’s a very powerful thing to not have a scar after major breast surgery.”

As a breast surgical oncologist, I am with each patient, on their journey, through peaks and valleys.  I am invested in making a difference in outcomes and if it includes boosting a woman’s self-esteem following breast surgery by hiding a scar, that is a sweet victory in the fight against cancer.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do notnecessarily reflect the official policy or position of Invuity, Inc.

Surgeon: Hidden scar surgery offers new hope to RI breast-cancer patients

Source: Eyewitness News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A major medical advancement that was once available to only a limited number of patients is now an option for nearly all surgical breast cancer patients in Rhode Island.
It’s a new hidden scar surgery technique that uses an illuminated retractor. The additional light provides a brighter, clearer pathway to the tumor – improving the surgeon’s visibility during a lumpectomy and nipple sparing mastectomy.
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This Blogger Is Posing Topless To Show Another Side Of Living With Cancer

Source: Self

Dena Smith, who runs the fashion and beauty blog Leo With Cancer, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, on her 29th birthday. As she began chemotherapy, the now 33-year-old shared her treatment experiences with her blog followers. When she underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery three years later, she once again took her readers on the journey with her—and in the process, she shared beautiful photos of her recovery that flip the script on how the internet views cancer treatment.

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The biggest thing your doctor isn’t telling you about your breast cancer scar by Maria Palafox, MD

Source: Maria Palafox, MD Blog

Just Google “dating after breast cancer surgery” to cry your eyes out.

A Google search on “breast cancer scars” results in everything from home remedies to reduce the appearance of your mastectomy or lumpectomy scar- to how to prepare a new love for what he is going to see the first time you disrobe. If you want to cry your eyes out, Google “dating after breast cancer surgery”. The first article that came up for me was a article where one patient stated, “The first time I was intimate with someone after reconstruction…the look on his face was devastating.” Or another patient who stated, “He didn’t try to explore my scars or my boobs.” Worse still, has a post that suggests breast cancer patients “buy an irresistible dog or a quirky, irresistible car” to improve their likelihood of finding a partner.

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The latest in advancements in breast cancer treatments at Infirmary Health

Source: FOX 10 TV

MOBILE, AL (WALA) – We all know someone who’s been affected by breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Fox10 and Infirmary Health are committed to keeping you informed on the disease. Dr. Sharla Gayle Patterson with Infirmary Health joined Studio10 to talk about the a few of the advancements now being practiced at Infirmary Health.

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