A Breast Cancer Journey of Surgery and Reconstruction - A Letter from Kelly Crider

Apr 6, 2015 — by Dr. Joel Aronowitz




I am Kelly Crider, a 56 year old wife and mother. On November 5, 2014 I was diagnosed with Invasive Breast Cancer.  This diagnosis was made at a small hospital near where I live.  I listened to what the surgeon had to say, but I remembered something I had read in a medical journal many years ago in a doctor’s office.  I had read about skin and nipple sparing mastectomy with very successful breast cancer removal.  I knew in my heart that what the doctor was saying was not the only option for me.  As soon as I got this diagnosis I went home and got on the computer.  I looked for the article that I had read all those years ago and was able to find it!  It was Dr. Joel Aronowitz with the Breast Preservation Foundation.  I read everything on the site and was very pleased to see what was possible. 


Since knowledge is power, I began researching the type of breast cancer that I had and what type of care was available to me in my state.  I went to two major teaching hospitals with large cancer centers.  None of the doctors that I saw said that they could get clean margins of my tumors.  The plastic surgeon said that saving my nipples would not be possible and that saving my skin may not be possible either.  I have very large dense breast.  The doctors I saw said that this would make things complicated and that I would likely lose my skin.  This would mean that I would need tissue expanders to stretch my skin over a period of weeks or months with no breast for an indefinite period of time.  These doctors were also talking about several surgeries over a period of months to complete the reconstruction.  This did not sound right to me.


I decided that I would go back to the Breast Preservation Foundation.  I went on the web site and filled out an email about my questions and concerns.  Very quickly I received a response and was prompted to call Erin at the foundation.  I spoke with her at length about possible procedures and she set up a conference call with Dr. Aronowitz for me.  Erin really set my mind at ease.  I had my conference call with Dr. Aronowitz on December 24th, 2014.   He was very compassionate to my needs and explained everything very well.  Dr. A. answered questions I had before I asked them.  Dr. A. took me seriously; he really understood how important a woman’s anatomy is to her!  He suggested that I speak with the Oncology Surgeon, Dr. Dennis Holmes who is also on the board of the foundation and send him all of my records and images.  On January 8, 2015 I had a conference call with Dr. Holmes.  Dr. Holmes told me more about the cancer that I have than any other Oncology doctor to that point.  He had a plan for surgery to remove all of the cancer and save my nipples and skin.  For the first time since my journey began, I was able to feel like I was making a plan that would not only save my life, but to save my woman hood and everything that makes me feel like one. 


On February the 12, 2015 had a nipple and skin sparing bi-lateral mastectomy.  My surgery involved having immediate reconstruction of both breast with implants.  They took out 550cc of breast tissue in each breast and put in 450cc.  Both of these doctors worked together to make plans for surgery and recovery.  They are very passionate about what they do for their patients.  They removed all of my breast tissue and got clean margins! Since my surgery I have never once felt that I was missing anything!  I love the new shape of my breast and am so grateful to have had these wonderful doctors caring for me.  All of my needs were met!  I could not be happier! Every woman should find out what is possible for them.  I would suggest that they pursue the best care until they are comfortable with that choice. Do not let anyone stop you!  It is their life and they are the ones who must live it!  I love my doctors and feel so blessed to have them care for me!

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