A Survivor from the Beginning
"One time, Abby stopped mid-way up the stairs and said: ‘Mommy, are you going to go to heaven like Nana and Papa?’ And I said: No, I’m not going to heaven. I’m a survivor. I’m going to be here."
"Everybody kept saying: 'You’re going to be OK, Penny.'"
Penny says good medical care made the difference in her successful journey. Sky Ridge surgeon Dr. Joyce Moore was called the first day. "She was so heartfelt, and so genuine. She really listened to me," she notes, adding that all health-care providers involved in her care were supportive. "Everybody kept saying: 'You’re going to be OK, Penny. You are strong, and you are going to get through this.'"
Double Mastectomy & DIEP Reconstructive Surgery
When Hornick was told there would be a 48-percent chance of the cancer’s return with a lumpectomy, a double mastectomy was the only answer, she says. That’s when her husband told her about Sky Ridge plastic surgeons Dr. Chris Williams and Dr. Jeremy Williams, professional partners, but not relatives. The two are trained in a special reconstructive option that, because they work as a team, can be provided to patients for bilateral surgeries.
"It lowers the complication rate when you have two similarly-trained surgeons doing it together," says Dr. Jeremy Williams. Because the two also work as a team with other Sky Ridge surgeons, Penny awoke from her first surgery with Moore’s mastectomy and the Williams’ initial phase of reconstruction done.
The reconstructive surgery, called DIEP, uses a patient’s own tissue and muscle-sparing techniques, so that core strength is less compromised than with other surgeries. That means she can have an easier time lifting her girls for hugs and doing her regular workouts.
The plastic surgeons were able to take enough tissue from Penny’s abdomen for the first phase (a tummy-tuck bonus, the petite brunette says with a grin), and will take the rest of the needed tissue from her buttocks. She chose the DIEP option because she wanted her reconstructed breasts to be from her own body, she says. "I didn’t want implants. I didn’t want a foreign substance in my body."