'Drive-Through' Mastectomies - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/19/07-Tyler

'Drive-Through' Mastectomies

When Sylvia Jeter of Tyler was diagnosed with breast cancer in January,  the doctor recommended a total mastectomy. Just hours after the surgery she learned it was even worse than expected.

"He said, 'We did find it in one lymph node,' and to me that was like a death nail. I didn't want it to be in my lymph nodes," said Sylvia.

In spite of being emotionally and physically drained, Sylvia could only think of one thing.

"I need to get out. I need to get out."

Her insurer, like so many others, encourages 'drive-through' mastectomies; an outpatient procedure where patients go home just hours after surgery.

Peggy Suggs, president of Tyler's Susan G. Komen For The Cure affiliate says, "It's very disconcerting to me that people consider, insurance companies consider it to be minor when it's a major surgery.  People need to stay longer."

 "The minute I got in there I started thinking 'When does the clock start ticking?" Sylvia said.

Just 23 hours after her mastectomy, Sylvia left the hospital.

"You've got tubes and drains and all this to deal with."

A loving family and a strong faith helped Sylvia through recovery, but she says without them, she never would have made it.

The Breast Cancer Patient Protection Bill would put an end to 'drive-through' mastectomies by requiring insurance companies cover at least 48 hours in the hospital after surgery.

National legislation has been introduced four times since 1999, but no action has ever been taken.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

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