Mastectomy and Chemotherapy - A Patient’s Perspective

*Note: The patient requested to remain anonymous.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2019 after detecting a lump in my breast a few weeks earlier. I went in to visit my GP and after a breast examination she sent me for a mammogram. My diagnosis was confirmed after a biopsy. This all happened in the space of a week, for which I was very grateful. The doctors were amazing in arranging quick appointments for me so that we could determine the extent of the disease and a treatment plan as soon as possible. I opted for a mastectomy after a consultation with Dr Dedekind, and I am currently undergoing chemotherapy.

How was your breast cancer treated? Did Dr Dedekind work with other specialists in deciding a course of action?

I was referred to a plastic surgeon, Dr Conrad Pienaar, to assess what my options were post-mastectomy. He was amazing. We decided together to do an immediate reconstruction after my bilateral mastectomy, which was the reason for the lengthy surgery. This included a prophylactic mastectomy on the other breast to reduce the risk of future breast cancer.

What was your initial response when you received the news regarding your illness?

I was shocked and felt overwhelmed, which doesn’t happen to me often. The enormity of the diagnosis and all that the treatment entails was daunting.

What were the biggest fears and challenges you had to face about your illness?

The biggest challenge was the length of the surgery. Dr Dedekind kept my husband in the loop during the procedure, which was invaluable to my family. My biggest fear regarding my illness was whether they would be able to remove all the cancer, and whether the cancer had spread anywhere else in my body.

How did you find out about Dr Dedekind’s practice?

I was referred to Dr Dedekind by my oncologist, Dr Boeddinghaus. I also heard really good recommendations from colleagues of Dr Dedekind, who are mutual friends.

What role did Dr Dedekind and her staff play to help you deal with this challenging time?

Dr Dedekind and her staff were lovely. Dr Dedekind placed me at ease about the surgery. Her kindness and confidence made the experience so much easier for me and my family.

After my consultation with her, my husband and I felt we could make an informed decision regarding my treatment plan. We spoke about all my options in detail and she gave me all the right information I needed to make a final decision, which was crucial considering all I was facing.

Her post-op care and bedside manner made my time in hospital immensely better. Dr Dedekind checked up on me often, constantly ensuring I was comfortable, happy and healing well. She also visited over weekends, which was above and beyond what is expected. Her passion and care for her patients were evident.

What advice will you give to someone in a similar situation to yourself?

Firstly, take time to catch your breath and process all that is happening to you. Speak to people you trust. Prepare for all your consultations so you can ask the right questions. This will help you to make calm, clear and informed decisions. Above all else, remain positive!

Do you have a special message that you want to convey to Dr Dedekind and her staff?

Thank you! I would never have been able to remain so positive and mentally strong during my treatment without your genuine, professional care, concern and skill before, during and after my surgery.

Britta Dedekind