When Lisa Crews, the cosmetic surgery coordinator for Dr. George Pope at Orlando Plastic Surgery Center, tells patients they can conquer breast cancer and feel beautiful again, she is speaking in the voice of experience.
Since 1997, Lisa has offered inspiration and encouragement to hundreds of women undergoing breast reconstruction. In 1994, at age 32, with a new husband and two young sons, Lisa was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and had a mastectomy. Three years earlier she discovered a pea-sized lump in her breast, but doctors assured her it was a cyst that only needed to be watched.
Two years later, a surgeon scheduled a biopsy and was surprised to find a malignancy. Lisa was not surprised.
“I knew there was something wrong, but at least now there was a plan of action,” she said.
“The doctor ordered eight treatments of chemotherapy, and told me I could start reconstruction in a year. By the time Dr. Pope finished my reconstruction, my breasts matched perfectly and I no longer felt like a freak,” Lisa said.
Over the years, breast reconstruction patients have relied on Lisa for information and advice, and she takes her responsibilities seriously.
“I tell them to take care of themselves and to follow their doctors’ orders to the letter, to keep appointments and never neglect follow-up. That’s why I’m here.”
More important, they turn to her for support and friendship, and she is happy to provide that, too.
“I tell them to consider breast cancer an inconvenience, and that when they finish reconstruction, they will feel as if they have climbed a mountain. Nothing makes me happier when they come back and tell me I was right.”