Margie Elkins

Breast cancer survivor Margie Elkins of Niantic underwent DIEP Flap reconstructive surgery at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Backus Hospital as part of her treatment for breast cancer. With the help of Dr. Vinod Pathy, the only surgeon performing the procedure in Connecticut, she was able to feel as close to the person she was before her diagnosis as she could.

When Margie Elkins was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, it turned her life upside down in a lot of ways. The diagnosis uprooted the sense of security and peace she shared with her husband, Carl, at the couple’s waterfront home in Niantic. It challenged her to overcome a constant sense of fear and uncertainty, while forcing her to endure the pain and discomfort of surgery and other treatments.

Even after her treatment was successful, Margie still felt a sense of loss due to the surgery she experienced. She wanted to feel as close to the person she was before her diagnosis as she could, which for her meant reconstructive surgery.

“What you find out with a process like this is, it takes a long time to get through, and sometimes you don’t think you’re going to get there,” she said. “But you have to keep going because what else can you do?”

With that in mind, Margie and her husband consulted with Dr. Vinod Pathy, a renowned and highly accomplished surgeon based out of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at Backus Hospital and an expert in a pioneering procedure called DIEP Flap surgery. In a DIEP Flap procedure, fat, skin, and blood vessels are cut from the wall of the lower belly and moved up to the chest to rebuild the breasts. In a properly performed DIEP, no muscle is cut or removed. The surgeon carefully reattaches the blood vessels of the flap to blood vessels in the chest through microsurgery. Because no muscle is used, most women recover more quickly and have a lower risk of losing abdominal muscle strength.


"You have to keep going because what else can you do?"


– Margie Elkins


Dr. Pathy, who is the only surgeon performing the procedure in Connecticut, explained to Margie that the procedure could minimize recovery time and side effects associated with traditional reconstructive surgery by “rerouting” blood vessels and tissue from her abdomen to her chest area.

Margie and her husband decided to go ahead with the procedure, and she said it has allowed her to regain the sense of normalcy and security she had before her diagnosis.

“It was a tough choice, but it was the right choice,” she said. “And Carl and I felt that we were fully participating in the process from the beginning. That was important to us.”


Also in This Section

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute