The day before she was due to give birth to her first child in 2011, television presenter Sally Obermeder was diagnosed with breast cancer.
When her daughter Annabelle Grace was born, Sally began a gruelling eight months of chemotherapy. In June 2012, she underwent her first mastectomy – because she was so weak from her treatment, doctors would only let her remove her right breast, the one with the tumour.
She then endured six months of radiation therapy, before her left breast was also removed.
“For six months I had one breast,” she told Mia Freedman on the No Filter podcast. “It was awful.”
LISTEN: Sally Obermeder tells Mia Freedman about her breast reconstruction on No Filter. Post continues after audio.
Finally, Sally was able to undergo a breast reconstruction. But things weren’t any easier: after nearly 11 and a half months of treatment – all while raising a newborn daughter – Sally was told she was unable to have implants.
“[The doctors] were worried that if the cancer came back and I needed to go back into treatment, they didn’t want my body to reject the implants and for there to be ay reason for me to need more surgery,” she said.
“Chemo and surgery don’t go well together.”
So Sally was given an alternate option: a TRAMP flap, which involved removing tissue from her own body to reconstruct her breasts.
“They take all the tissue from your stomach and, in my case, from my back…and they use it to build your breasts,” Sally said.
“So they basically make your breasts out of real tissue.”
Sally added that her ‘new’ breasts “shrink as you lose weight” and “grow like real boobs as you put on weight”.
So why wouldn’t anyone choose the TRAM flap option?
Because the operation takes an unimaginable 17 hours, with “every single nerve” reattached during the process.
Sally was in hospital recovering for 10 days following the surgery.
“They can do it for anyone…but it’s a big operation and I think people think, ‘Well, I’ll have an implant, what’s the difference?’. But that just wasn’t an option for me.”
Sally then underwent a separate operation to reconstruct her nipples, which were created from skin taken from another part of her back.
“My body’s got scars everywhere,” she said.
“They aren’t actually real nipples, there’s no sensation there.”
Another interesting side effect? Sally’s belly button was ‘moved’ during the process.
“Because they take tissue from your stomach, they have to move your belly button. It’s still where [it was], but it’s not the original one I was born with!
“They made me a new bellybutton. Honestly, doctors are amazing.”
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