February 22, 2019
Missy McCoy thought she knew what to expect from the breast reconstructive surgery she had after her mastectomy. Breast cancer runs in her family, so she'd seen the results before. But she was pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed when the bandages were briefly removed after surgery to give her a quick look.
"I remember gasping and thinking 'Oh my God, they look amazing,'" Missy says.
Missy, who was diagnosed in 2015 at age 28, found her cancer early, thanks to the advice of a fertility specialist she was seeing at The University of Kansas Health System. Upon learning of Missy's family history, the doctor recommended she undergo frequent screenings for breast cancer.
After a year of monitoring, a lump was spotted in Missy's left breast and a biopsy confirmed cancer. She was referred to plastic surgeon Eric Lai, MD.
Meeting patient expectations
"It’s important to listen to patients and understand their priorities with regard to their reconstruction, so I can help them reach the point where they are comfortable with the surgery," Dr. Lai says. Missy didn’t need radiation, so implants were the option that would let her quickly move on with the rest of her life. Dr. Lai says she had "an excellent cosmetic result."
Missy had the first stage of reconstruction at the time of her mastectomy, when Dr. Lai inserted tissue expanders. Then, as a precautionary measure, Missy had 4 rounds of chemotherapy before returning to Dr. Lai 6 months later to complete the reconstruction. While many women opt for a larger breast size, Missy’s goal was simple.
"I just wanted to feel like myself in my clothes and be comfortable again in my own skin," she says. She describes Dr. Lai as "wonderful all the way around." She says his staff is equally caring and attentive, recalling the time she needed emergency care when one of her wounds opened.
"I called them late in the afternoon and they stayed until I got there at 6:30 p.m., so they could take care of it right away and prevent major scarring," says Missy, who is from of Garden City, Mo., about 1 hour south of Kansas City. "Dr. Lai and his nurse both went above and beyond to make sure everything looked good."