Associate Professor Phillip Carson

I was 7 weeks pregnant when I went to see my Surgeon, my colleague, my mentor and my friend for follow-up of a benign breast lump he had removed 18 months earlier. The imaging revealed something not right and after an initial core biopsy confirming cancer, the tumour was removed.

The result was an unusual cancer in someone my age, and 9 separate foci of it, with large amounts of precancerous cells. The decision was easy for a mastectomy. Given that nothing really matched up (clinical findings, imaging and ultimate pathology) I was very keen to have a bilateral mastectomy.

I was only 7 weeks pregnant and hadn’t really thought too long or hard about breastfeeding yet.

We needed to wait until I was into the second trimester, the safest time in pregnancy for a General Anaesthetic, and Phill was reluctant to do anything more than was necessary to remove the cancer until after our baby was born. It wasn’t too hard to convince me to go along with this for reasons that I understood – surgical reasons and risks of complications. He did, however, convince me to accept this path by a strong sense of wanting me to be able to breastfeed, for at least a period of time. As a father of six he understood (even though I didn’t at the time) what it would mean to be able to breastfeed, both for myself and our baby. And I am grateful for the 3 months of breastfeeding that we had.

Nominated by: Dr Stephanie Weidlich

8 July, 2016

Australia

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