Reyne Mitchell: Positive long-term benefits
Oncoplastic breast surgery is a compassionate and innovative approach to breast cancer that considers the whole woman, beyond the cancer diagnosis, with an eye to her total well-being and long-term recovery. Reyne Mitchell, 57, of South Fayette, had oncoplastic surgery in January 2019 and she is grateful that her St. Clair Hospital physicians were always cognizant of the broader, lifelong impact of her experience. “I just wanted the cancer to be gone,” she says. “Thankfully, my doctors were looking at the big picture and wanted more for me. They wanted to give me an outcome that would truly put the cancer behind me in a more complete way. They didn’t simply treat me, they healed me because they saw me as a person, with life ahead of me.”
Reyne was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2018, following a routine screening mammogram on her 56th birthday. “My mammogram showed abnormalities in my left breast that required further testing, including a biopsy. It came as a complete shock; I had no symptoms. I’ll never forget that birthday or the moment when I learned I might have breast cancer.”
There was a second surprise in store for Reyne. A breast MRI revealed that there was another tumor, also in the left breast. St. Clair Hospital breast surgeon Tara L. Grahovac, M.D. informed Reyne that she would need surgery and radiation therapy. “I was incredibly scared, but after I saw Dr. Grahovac, she calmed my fears, because we discussed my treatment in detail and made a plan. Dr. Grahovac explained that every cancer is unique, so every woman needs an individual plan. She told me what the options were, and we decided together that a lumpectomy plus plastic surgery reconstruction was right for me. My St. Clair plastic surgeon, Dr. (Edward J.) Ruane, agreed that this was a good option. Dr. Ruane put me at ease because he was meticulous.”
Reyne’s lumpectomy was performed at the end of January 2019, followed by reconstruction surgery two weeks later. “If I didn’t have the second cancer, I might have been able to have just lumpectomy and radiation,” she recalls, “but because of the second cancer I needed a much larger lumpectomy. They removed an entire quadrant, but I had enough tissue for a breast lift. Dr. Ruane lifted tissue into the void left by the lumpectomy. I also had a breast reduction on the right at the same time, so my breasts would be symmetrical. Both surgeons, Dr. Grahovac and Dr. Ruane, worked together for the best possible outcome.”
Six weeks of post-operative healing gave Reyne time to prepare for radiation therapy. She went back to work as a hair stylist at the McMurray Styling Center — a job that demands stamina; but she believed that work was essential to her healing, not just from the surgeries but from the entire ordeal of cancer. “It was a lot to go through, but I kept getting positive news along the way. I prayed, kept going and maintained my life as normally as I could. I tried to stay positive, as hard as that sometimes was.
“Cancer is a journey of unpredictability. You make choices and hope that they are the right ones. I was fortunate to have caring doctors: Dr. Grahovac; Dr. Ruane; my oncologist, Dr. Vincent Reyes; and my radiation oncologist Dr. Robert Werner. I had tremendous support from my husband Mark and my adult daughters, Maggie and Micaela. Mark went through everything with me. I will be forever grateful to my doctors, and to St. Clair, for their excellent care.”
Dr. Ruane says Reyne’s surgeries went well. “There was concern that she could have been left with a significant divot after lumpectomy, so we did a breast reconstruction and lift for her. Post-op, it went smoothly, with no complications.”
EDWARD J. RUANE, JR., M.D
Dr. Ruane specializes in all aspects of plastic surgery, ranging from reconstructive to cosmetic. He earned his medical degree at Duke University School of Medicine and completed a residency in Plastic Surgery at UPMC, where he served as Administrative Chief Resident in the Department of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Ruane is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Along with his partner Robert W. Bragdon, M.D., FACS, Dr. Ruane practices with St. Clair Medical Services.
To contact Dr. Ruane, please call 412.942.5725.
TARA L. GRAHOVAC, M.D.
Dr. Grahovac specializes in breast surgery. She earned her medical degree at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Grahovac completed her residency in general surgery at Allegheny General Hospital, and a fellowship in breast surgery at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. She is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and is certified as a trained clinical fellow in breast surgical oncology by a Society of Surgical Oncology-accredited program. Along with her partner Raye J. Budway, M.D., FACS, Dr. Grahovac practices with St. Clair Medical Services.
To contact Dr. Grahovac, please call 412.942.7850.