Former Craig woman builds confidence, and new breasts, after cancer
For those who have just beaten breast cancer, the battle sometimes feels like it’s only halfway over.
Penny Coverston Gobbo is a Craig native and two-time breast cancer survivor who is currently in the last stages of what she and her husband call her “Build-a-Boobie” project.
Although they are in remission from breast cancer, many women who have overcome the disease want to get back the breasts they’ve lost. Gobbo is one of those women.
The prospect of breast reconstruction can be daunting, but innovations to the reconstruction process are making it less invasive and yielding more natural results.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America says that there are two options for breast reconstruction: implants or using one’s own tissue.
CTCA says that if a survivor chooses implant reconstruction, a balloon-like device called an extender is placed in the chest either during the mastectomy, in immediate reconstruction, or at a later time, in delayed reconstruction. Over the course of several weeks, the expander is filled with fluid periodically, stretching the skin to make room for implants.
If a survivor chooses to use her own tissue, it is often referred to as “autologous” or “flap” reconstruction. During this type of reconstruction, a flap of tissue is removed from an area of the body to reconstruct the breast.
A plastic surgeon came to talk to Gobbo, who now lives in Denver, before her double mastectomy to inform her of her options. Radiation had caused damage on one side of Gobbo’s chest so it was recommended that she use her own tissue for that side and an implant for the other side. She chose implants on both sides, however — a decision that she says she’s very happy she made.
The surgeon inserted the extenders during her mastectomy, Gobbo said. Her mastectomy date was April 7 and she was able to receive her implants on Sept. 6.
Gobbo was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and went in remission after a lumpectomy and radiation treatments. She was advised by her doctor to adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
Although the cancer came back despite her healthy lifestyle, Gobbo says that being healthy made the second battle much easier.
“I was down for just a week after my mastectomy and just a day after I received my implants,” Gobbo said. “There’s a lot to be said for having a healthy mind and a healthy body.”
Gobbo’s breast cancer was detected early in 2014 through regular six-month screenings, which she had decided to get because her sister had been diagnosed with the disease. She recommends regular breast cancer screenings for all women, as information from the American Cancer Society says that early detection is a major factor in breast cancer treatment and survival.
“Stay strong and positive. Your mentality is 80 percent of the battle in my opinion. If you can get past this mentally, it’ll help you get through it,” Gobbo said, encouraging women who are battling breast cancer.
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Next week, Colorado Northwestern Community College and Moffat County are hosting a free day-long seminar for local ranchers and agriculture producers.