Illinois State Rep. Deborah Mell recovers from breast cancer surgery

September 5, 2012

State Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) is recovering from surgery three months after announcing she had Stage 1 invasive breast cancer, according to her doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine.

Mell, 44, came to the University of Chicago Medicine in July for a second opinion after she was diagnosed with a small, early stage cancer in June. On Aug. 10, she had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. Mell is awaiting a second-stage reconstructive procedure. After that, she will take tamoxifen, a drug that blocks the effects of estrogen, for five years to help prevent a recurrence.

"Rep. Mell is doing extremely well," said her surgeon, Nora Jaskowiak, MD, associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine. "She's out of the woods. She is expected to do very well."

Jaskowiak said the surgery went smoothly. No lymph nodes were affected and the tissue surrounding the tumor was cancer-free, which makes Mell's prognosis very good, she said. Her reconstructive surgery has also been smooth, said David Song, MD, MBA, professor and section chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Mell chose to have the procedure because of her strong family history of breast cancer. Her mother was first diagnosed at age 43. She had a second primary cancer in the other breast 12 years later.

"After learning from my mother's experience, speaking with other diagnosed women and consulting with my doctors, my wife, Christin, and I knew this was the right course of action for us," Mell said. "We can't express enough gratitude for Dr. Jaskowiak and her surgical team, Dr. Song and his reconstructive team, all the nurses and hospital staff for the excellent care we received throughout this process."

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