BUFFALO, NY ( WKBW ) For over twenty years, Channel 7's Linda Pellegrino has talked with thousands of doctors and patients about medical subjects on her 10a.m. magazine program, "AM/Buffalo."
On the Monday March 14th program, Linda was both the host and patient as she revealed her recent battle with breast cancer. Linda discussed her battle with breast cancer, and the double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery she underwent in February of this year.
Linda's medical journey began December 7, 2010 when she went for her annual mammogram. It was soon after on December 23rd that Linda was given the news that she had cancer in both her right and left breast. The news came as a shock to Linda, because she felt so good, and that there was no family history of breast cancer.
Linda said that she spoke to her husband Bob, and the General Manager of WKBW, Bill Ransom before plotting her road to recovery. She explained that she took Christmas week to figure out what she was going to do, and after consulting with her doctors, ultimately decided that she would have the double mastectomy followed by reconstructive surgery.
That is where Dr. Ronald Bauer from Breast Care of WNY comes in. He was on Linda's medical team and was there through the entire process. He was joined on the show by Dr. David Rigan from the Center For Plastic Surgery, who was responsible for the reconstruction.
Surgery was performed February 1st at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, followed by six weeks of recovery. Linda said she was getting bored sitting at home, and after the doctors gave her the OK, she returned to the show. Dr. Bauer noted that recovery is generally in the six to eight week range.
In an interview with Eyewitness News after the announcement on "AM/Buffalo," Dr. Bauer noted that Linda's cancer was caught early in stage one. The doctor also emphasized that even though there was no history of breast cancer in Linda's family, 90% of the patients that the doctor sees now have no history either.
Breast cancer now affects 1 out of 8 women.
Linda decided to have reconstructive surgery done at the same time. Dr. David Rigan went in after Dr. Bauer and his team were finished. Dr. Rigan explained that Linda chose the option of implants over use of the patients own tissue. He said that generally the implants last over a decade.
Dr. Bauer noted that some women opt not to get reconstructive surgery, and that those personal decisions are sometimes based on age. However he has seen women in their 80's decide to have reconstruction done.
The next step for Linda in her battle against breast cancer will be some preventive chemotherapy. That is scheduled later in the spring, after Linda returns from a planned trip to France with fans of the "AM/Buffalo" show.
In looking back at what has happened, and what is yet to come, Linda told Eyewitness News that her husband Bob and son Brett were "rocks" through all of this. She joined her medical team in emphasizing that women should be tested. Dr. Bauer added that if there is a history of breast cancer, mammogram tests should start as early as 25 years of age, and be performed routinely.
Linda has vowed to continue telling her story to help others, and save lives.