Gentle professor Santanelli, and whoever is mentioned in this letter,
a year has passed since I have requested your cures, and I needed some time to accept what has happened to me.
I am writing know, in the light of day, to thank you and everyone that has accompanied me along this tangled and insidious path.
I thank God I was cured at the Sant’Andrea Hospital, at the time of the diagnosis and later on for a tumor relapse, when we faced the issue of tumor extension, thus of the need for a wider “reconstruction”.
In those moments one is completerly at the mercy of anything, blurred as if drowning into the fog; even though you might fight and are apparently resoluted, the energies to keep yourself always clear-headed are never enough. To meet the right persons, knowing how to do their job at their very best, is a blessing to say grace for.
We met due to a tumor relapse after quadrantectomy (performed also at the Sant’Andrea Hospital in a most excellent manner) for a tumor of small dimensions, thus in occasion of a violent arousal from the wish that the sorrow I had dealt with was elapsed, shattered thinking something went wrong.
Despite I am a challenging person, the sense of confusion and loss almost choked the strength required to go back into battle. However, in spite of all, I was born under a lucky star, and arrived at the Sant’Andrea Hospital where there is a complete Breast Unit, and where you keep up with a wide selection of procedures, not limited to implants.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for having avoided me the huge trauma of walking out the operative room mutilated: with the DIEP technique I ended up with two “new” breasts and they are “mine”, all with my tissues and without implants. I know that, facing the absolute need, I could have been able to deal with the very worst situation, but with how much pain again, and with what kind of long-term effects on my mind, soul, thus on my health? You have avoided me this calvary, thank you. Not considering that for the rest of my life I would have lived with a foreign body, that moves, is artificial, feels different and fake. I wish all women could not suffer too much.
We spent 8 hours together in the operative room, for a bilateral procedure (I was terrified but it had to be done). A real challenge for all of you and for me, and for my husband, waiting for the end of the operation: side by side, as hoplites at the battle of Marathon.
As every woman and patient in this condition I was completely unaware of what plastic surgery could have offered in terms of breast reconstruction. I couldn’t immagine that a procedure like the DIEP flap existed. The only procedure I knew was the reconstruction with prosthesis, culturally labelled as aesthetic devices and promoted with no regard to their frequent complications and persistent factitious sensation.
In Finland 90% of post-mastectomy reconstructions are achieved with the DIEP flap, under patients’ request and thanks to an adequate surgical training; I was told this during an informal interview (after all I am a journalist…) by Dr. Sinikka Suominen, plastic reconstructive surgeon and associate professor at the Helsinki University Hospital. In Finland, in a less male-chauvinist culture, free from the Freudian complex of the inviting “super-breasts”, in which women are not judged nor judge themselves for their body image, having a much more naturalistic conscience, women refuse prosthesis reconstruction. Whoever deals with breast cancer should convey these informations to the population.
Luckily, prof Santanelli, you chose the most advanced and challenging professional road.
I am not an easy patient, nor a placid person: when dealing with fundamental aspects of life and existence, mine as well as other persons’, I don’t get intimidated by roles and titles and I demand, from me and others, only substance and honesty. This makes the relationship much more intricate but selects who does have substance from who only holds a role and title. I admit you and your team from the Sant’Andrea Hospital established a proper doctor-patient relationship; it was not easy, but you had substance and I have entrusted myself to you.
Finally I would heartfully thank prof Amanti and his team, dr. Maggi and dr. Lombardi, and again you, prof Santanelli, for your professionalism, and all the surgeons that are following you along this path – dr. Paolini, who assisted you during my operation, dr. Renzi and dr. Longo – thanks again for giving me the chance to recover the best condition and to get back all my strenghts and keep fighting.
Heartful greetings, with no regrets.