Dr. Anne Peled was a successful breast cancer specialist and surgeon in San Francisco when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37.
“Suddenly, I wasn’t the doctor anymore. I had become the patient. I had three children. I felt all the fears I had seen my patients go through day after day.”
Anne had discovered the lump during her monthly self-exam. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks later, but thanks to her quick discovery, it was still Stage 1. When she received the news, she was in shock. But she knew she had to face her diagnosis with courage. She had to tell herself that she could – and would – get through it.
“I tell my patients every day, most breast cancer nowadays is very curable. I had to stay strong and reassure myself of the same thing.”
Anne knew she wanted the same surgery she performs on her own patients – a Hidden Scar lumpectomy, which removes cancerous tissue from the breast without leaving behind dramatic scars. Anne assembled a team she knew and trusted to perform the surgery in Vancouver, Washington.
“Too many women who undergo breast cancer surgery have to live with scars that remind them all the time of what they went through. With Hidden Scar, I knew the surgery would be minimally invasive and would leave no visible scars. I wouldn’t have to endure the emotional trauma of reliving my experience every time I looked at my body.”
She chose to have a lumpectomy with oncoplastic surgery so that the removal and the reconstruction could be performed in the same operation. This eliminates the need to endure two surgeries. But only 10% of women who have lumpectomies in the United States also have oncoplastic surgery – mainly because they don’t know it’s an option.
“I wish women knew about all the options that are available today that our mothers and grandmothers never had. The fact that women today can have breast cancer surgery and reconstruction today in the same surgery, and with no visible scar, is remarkable and revolutionary. We can gain strength from that knowledge.”
A speedy recovery
Before discovering her cancer, Anne regularly ran half marathons and triathlons. She was able to tackle her health with optimism and courage and start exercising again six days after her surgery. She would even run right after her radiation treatments. When she finished radiation, she celebrated by running a 10K the next month.
Today, Anne travels the country to train other surgeons in Hidden Scar surgery technique and also invites surgeons to come watch her perform the surgery.
“We have to get the word out that this is an option for women. Women are still having surgery that damages and disfigures their breasts because they don’t know all their options.”
Today, Anne believes she is a better doctor because of what she went through. She is able to encourage her breast cancer patients to face their diagnoses with courage and hope and to educate patients and surgeons about the treatments available. According to one study, nearly two-thirds of women feel self-conscious about their breast cancer surgery scars.
“Women should never feel ashamed of their bodies after breast cancer surgery. I feel blessed that I can tell them that this no longer has to be the case.”
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