Restoring Confidence Shelly Morlock | Coloma, Michigan

Every woman fears the thought of finding out they have breast cancer. Coloma resident, Shelly Morlock, was no different. The day she discovered a small lump in her right breast, a million thoughts began running through her mind. Breast cancer didn’t run in her family–but could it be?

Initial biopsy results came back negative and Shelly felt a wave a relief wash over her. But just over a year later, the lump was still there and seemed to be growing. Shelly knew something wasn’t right.

“I went back for a second biopsy which revealed that it was in fact Stage 2 breast cancer. The first time around it was so small that the tissue sample resulted in a negative reading but I’m so glad I listened to my body.”

Shelly consulted with a general surgeon to discuss her options. An MRI was ordered to get a better idea of the exact size and location of the cancerous cells.

“The tumor was bigger than they originally thought, and my surgeon told me that if it was his own sister or aunt, he would recommend removing the entire breast."

Shelly trusted the advice of her care team and decided to move forward with a mastectomy. She later learned the cancer had traveled outside her breast and spread to the surrounding lymph nodes which would require a full course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Over the course of the next year, battling breast cancer became her full-time job.

One year later and officially cancer free, each time Shelly looked in the mirror she still didn’t feel quite like herself. After much consideration and discussion with her care team and family, Shelly decided she wanted to pursue breast reconstruction surgery at Stonegate Plastic Surgery. During the TRAM flap procedure, a plastic surgeon removed a section of skin, fat, blood vessels, and muscle from the lower half of her belly and moved it up to the chest to form a breast shape.

Since the procedure Shelly said she feels more confident in her own skin. Even with an implant, she continues to have a 3D mammogram once a year which allows radiologists the ability to examine breast tissue one thin layer at a time, making fine details more visible and less likely to be hidden by overlapping tissue. Shelly also follows up with oncologist, Edmund Paloyan, MD, regularly to ensure the cancer doesn’t return.

"The best advice I would have for women battling breast cancer or considering a mastectomy is to listen to your doctors and trust your care team."