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After enduring a double mastectomy, Michelle experienced further complications halting her reconstructive surgery. She joins The Doctors in hopes of getting her body back.
“It devastated my entire world,” she says of learning about her breast cancer diagnosis. “When I heard the words breast cancer, all I could think about was my children, that’s what I worry about the most.”
First, Michelle underwent chemotherapy, and then her doctors recommended a double mastectomy. A week after the surgery she saw her breasts for the first time, Michelle says she was shocked. “I was cut from the back of my underarm to the center of my breast,” she explains. “I had really ugly loose skin.”
She was able to find some relief knowing she was due for reconstruction surgery. Following the first portion of her surgery, Michelle got an infection and the reconstruction had to be stopped. Repeated infections caused her to delay finishing surgery multiple times and eventually her insurance ran out.
“I believe that I’m going to live a long time, but if I don’t, I don’t want to hide of the rest of my life,” she explains. “I’m just not like I used to be. I want to be who I was.”
With the help of plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Zarrabi and his nonprofit organization Chapter 2 – which provides reconstructive plastic surgery for those unable to afford it – The Doctors surprise Michelle with the gift of finishing her surgery, free of charge.
Dr. Zarrabi tells an elated Michelle, “I started Chapter 2 because I truly in my heart believe that each and every one of us has a responsibility to help those around us… this is my way of giving back. It’s the best feeling to be able to help patients like yourself.”
Adding, “My goals are to do a revision breast reconstruction for you, help you to achieve more symmetry, remove all of that extra skin… my hope is for you to feel beautiful on the outside and beautiful on the inside, and to make you whole again.”
Free surgery aside, Michelle tells The Doctors, “I’m grateful for my life. I’m so happy that I lived to see this day. Many people don’t make it, but I’m one of the ones who made it, so I’m blessed.”
See more of Michelle’s touching story of survival in the video below.