Dr. Christine Rogers has impressive credentials. She has been a surgeon since 1978, and has been performing plastic surgery since 1984. Her peers selected her for Channel 4’s “Best Docs” of plastic surgery, and she was also chosen as one of Denver’s “Top Doctors” by 5280 Magazine. But all of her training and experience in medicine were no match against the disease that shattered her world in 2002. Breast Cancer would be the most formidable challenge of her life.
You could say Christine had a charmed life. She obtained her medical degree at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, and then completed her surgical residency at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester. She went on to do an additional residency in plastic surgery at Harvard Medical School and several other prestigious hospitals. Her Fellowship in Craniofacial surgery was done in Paris, France. And she has had a thriving private practice since 1990. But life would soon test Christine’s strength.
In 2000 Christine felt a rough area in her right breast and called it to the attention of the mammographers. For two years, they assured her that it was nothing and that her mammograms were negative. She insisted on an ultrasound, but again was told they were negative. Unconvinced, she had a friend biopsy her mass. While operating on another patient with breast cancer, the pathologist called into the operating room, and Christine knew it was about her. She left the room to pull up the report on the computer and found out about her own tumor. Her heart sank.
The general surgeon felt a lumpectomy and radiation were adequate, but with all the negative results on previous tests, she had no confidence testing would be able to detect further cancer. She elected to have a bilateral mastectomy, which she booked for herself the following Saturday with some of her own Operating Room team. She was surprised and relieved that the pain was not as bad as she expected. She returned to work in one week. She had five new breast cancer patients in her office, all extremely upset with their diagnoses. When she told them that she had her own mastectomy eight days earlier, they were shocked at how well she looked and inspired by her positive attitude.
Eleven days later Christine returned to ballet class, and then back to ice skating a few weeks later. It has taken a long time for her to regain her total range of movement. But with hard work and perseverance, it returned. The music and dance together elevated her mood and mental state and helped in her recovery. Throughout the course of the first year, Christine felt she became physically stronger than before the surgery, due to the exercise and mentally more at peace with the diagnosis.
Although her tumor markers climbed a bit during that year with no explanation, everything turned out fine. Today, Christine is having a great time developing a line of her own skin care products that fight free radicals. She is also making dance and exercise videos for cancer patients.
The diagnosis definitely changed Christine’s life forever. She enjoys every moment with her husband and 7-year old adopted daughter from China. And, she has a special connection and empathy for her breast cancer patients; a connection that few doctors could possibly understand.
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Breast Cancer Survivor – Nancy
Breast Cancer Basics
Breast Self Exam
Questions to Ask Your Plastic Surgeon
Recommended Reading List
Surviving and Thriving – Breast Cancer