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Health

Emerging from mastectomy with peace of mind, new attitude

| Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Margaret Pelikan had two goals: to get rid of the disease and to feel normal afterward. Her team at Mayo Clinic helped her accomplish both.

For eight years, Margaret Pelikan dreaded mammograms.

In 2008, she had been diagnosed with a condition called lobular carcinoma in situ in her left breast. The disorder involves abnormal cell growth, and it increases a person's risk of developing invasive breast cancer in both breasts.

After having the abnormal cells surgically removed, Pelikan took medication to suppress her estrogen production in hopes of decreasing her breast cancer risk. But in 2016, her fears were realized. A mammogram showed she had suspicious calcifications in her right breast. Further testing revealed Pelikan had breast cancer.

Her local health care provider recommended a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. She went ahead with the lumpectomy. But she was concerned about radiation. Because she was at high-risk for breast cancer, Pelikan feared the disease could come back. If it did, a mastectomy and successful breast reconstruction could be more difficult to achieve if the tissue had received radiation.

As she weighed her options, she decided she wanted another opinion. She turned to Mayo Clinic. Doctors there offered Pelikan a new type of surgery and breast reconstruction that would provide the treatment she needed while helping her maintain a positive outlook about her body.

“I joke that I look better than I did before,” Pelikan says. “And I don't have to continue to live in fear of my annual mammogram.”

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