DANVILLE – After a mastectomy in 2006, Ruth Gonzalez was reminded of her battle with breast cancer every time she saw that scar across her chest.
After reconstructive surgery on her left breast, however, she feels like a new woman — ready to move ahead instead of dwelling on the past.
“It really picked up my spirits,” Gonzalez, 62, of Danville said. “It’s nice when you have your equipment back where it belongs.”
Although she endured a lot of pain from the surgery, she would do it again — that’s how much it’s changed her life.
Gonzalez is one of dozens of breast cancer survivors who have benefited from reconstructive surgery performed by Dr. Susan Schneider.
Schneider, a board certified plastic surgeon, is based in Joliet, but she travels to Danville once a week to see patients from the area. Presence United Samaritans Medical Center provides her office space and staff, and the surgeries are performed at Presence.
Schneider has more than 100 patients — about 70 percent come for reconstructive breast surgery and about 30 percent have breast reduction or some type of cosmetic surgery, she said. She’s the only one doing this type of surgery in the area, including Champaign and Urbana, she said.
A woman who has received a breast cancer diagnosis will see a general surgeon, who will discuss options such as a lumpectomy (a small volume of breast tissue containing the tumor is removed) or mastectomy (removal of one or both breasts).
“Women are more open to a mastectomy if they know the reconstruction is available,” she said. Reconstructive surgery rebuilds the breast so it’s about the same size and shape as before.
Sometimes, the reconstruction can start during the mastectomy, which prevents additional anesthesia for the patient. At that time, temporary implants are put in; a second surgery will put in final implants, touch up scars and do other work.