Patient Story: Angel Leon
June 26, 2021
Angel Leon, 51, is a married real estate broker with two daughters, 12 and 14 years old. She has always enjoyed good health, but in 2016, she was diagnosed with atypical hyperplasia, a precancerous condition that is an accumulation of abnormal cells in the milk ducts and lobules of the breast. Angel was referred to the Overlake Cancer Center for further evaluation. “Everything came back normal,” remembers Angel. “So it was a watch and wait situation.”
In 2019, another cluster of abnormal cells appeared and soon Angel was having an MRI that would give a more detailed picture of her breast. The MRI revealed a problem area and within 24 hours, after a follow-up ultrasound, Angel learned she had cancer.
Angel had been previously evaluated for her cancer risk. It was high. That’s why, she says, she opted for a double mastectomy. “I wanted to make sure I would not be dealing with breast cancer later on. And, I cannot say enough good things about all the doctors involved,” says Angel. “I went into this fully informed.”
Three months after the surgery, Angel was ready for reconstruction surgery. She underwent DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforators) flap surgery, which is a cutting-edge breast reconstruction operation that uses a flap of complete tissue—blood vessels (perforators), skin and fat—from a woman's lower abdomen as donor tissue.
“I told myself, ‘I’m not going to take three months to recover,’ and I didn’t,” says Angel. ‘Now, a year later, I feel better than ever.”
Angel has taken her experience at Overlake and used it to help other women. She’s active in DIEP support groups, helping women deal with their fears. “I say, ‘you can do this.’ I’m proof that you can do this.”