Allison’s story: Breast reconstruction with a 3D twist

Chris and Allison Gilbert with dog and Christmas treeIn June 2014, Health Alliance Medicare Quality and Business Analyst Allison Gilbert turned 30. Exactly one week later, she discovered a lump on her breast. Two months later, she received a breast cancer diagnosis. Two months after that, she underwent a bilateral mastectomy to remove both breasts.

“This was obviously completely unexpected. Ever since I walked through the doors at Mills (Breast Cancer Institute), though, the doctors made the whole situation pretty easy,” Allison said. “They explained things in terms that didn’t make my head explode.”

After strenuous chemotherapy and surgeries, Gilbert knew she wanted her breasts back.

She was worried about having reconstructive surgery without knowing what to expect results-wise. Becoming the first Carle patient to benefit from our new Vectra 3D Imaging System eased that worry. 

Using Vectra, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Natasha Luckey, MD, helped Allison choose what her breasts would look like post-op. With the tool, patients can see how any given implant would look on their own bodies.

“It’s hard to ‘nail it’ in terms of size unless a patient actually has something visual in front of them,” Dr. Luckey said. “With this technology, (it’s like I’m able) to actually perform surgery on a digital photo. Because of the Vectra, we can strike a happy medium between what you (the surgeon) can do and what the patient wants.”

With so many successes surrounding Allison’s treatment and reconstruction, she’s able to do more than just maintain.

“My energy is slowly returning, and I am finally able to get back into my old habits,” she said.

Ultra-positive Allison is back running, swimming, gardening and playing with her 7-year-old Husky mix Juneau and 8-month-old Lab-Rottweiler mix Crosby.

“It was probably crazy to rescue a puppy during treatment, but he was so cute, I couldn’t say no,” she said.

Allison is excited to begin golfing again with her husband, Chris, the principal at Bottenfield Elementary School. Tallying even more big successes since Allison’s diagnosis and treatment, the couple recently finished their adoption home study, and they are now looking forward to being able to bring their first child into their family.