As I look back on 2015 I feel grateful for my wonderful patients, my family & friends and all of the little things that I usually take for granted that contribute to making my practice and my surgeries a success.
This year we have continued to offer the most up to date surgical techniques to our patients. I am continually in awe of the strength that I see in my breast cancer patients who this year ranged in age from 26 to 76. The impact of a breast cancer diagnosis is life changing and to see my patients go through the process of acceptance, information-seeking, body-changing surgery and finally recovery is humbling. I appreciate the connection I share with them and the long term relationships I form from the point of diagnosis to the final stage of nipple reconstruction and tattoo.
In October of 2015 we hosted the 4th annual Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. This year was a great success and I was able to engage the media and spread the word through Stephen Quinn (CBC), Linda Steele (CKNW), CTV News and Erin Ellis (Vancouver Sun). Thanks to all of you for helping us educate the public about their options concerning breast reconstruction. I also want to thank our 24 models who participated in a private, women-only show-and-tell where women were able to see the results of breast reconstruction in the flesh. This takes extreme courage and empowerment.
In Uganda I was inspired to a level I did not think possible. There, I was able to push my boundaries as I operated in a completely different environment and on patients with problems of a nature not commonly seen in North America. I realized how lucky we are in Canada to have a state-of-the art medical system with operating theaters that run smoothly and the equipment we need to give patients the best care possible. Most importantly we are able to offer breast reconstruction to everyone in need; this is not the case in many other countries and it is important to remember this.
Being a surgeon is not always easy as there are many demands, complications and expectations that come with the job. This year I balanced this part of my life with time with my family, a dedication to hot yoga & spin classes and travel. Each year I try to see at least two new countries and this year Uganda and the Netherlands made the list. In Amsterdam I reconnected with Dr Breukers who was our breast reconstruction fellow in 2013 and has now gone on to start his own practice. It is wonderful to remain connected to the international fellows that we train with knowledge transfer happening in both directions.
It’s been a great year. In December 2014 I could not have imagined that I would be involved in the first breast reconstruction in Uganda, become a medical consultant on a movie and become guardian to a baby chimpanzee! I wonder what 2016 will bring?