Thrive by IU Health

January 09, 2024

Navigating life’s storm with unyielding strength

IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital

Navigating life’s storm with unyielding strength

Life for Danniel Tutterow has always been about family. She spends most of her time with her husband, Bruce, their baby and their dog. But by the summer of 2020, with the world still in lockdown, her own well-being came into question from an unsettling pain from her armpits to her chest.

The pain reminded her of when she used to use aluminum deodorant. Back in 2013, she experienced a condition where the deodorant mixed with shaving gave her a painful rash. She figured the irritation was back, so decided to follow the same instructions she did then: no deodorant, no shaving, no restrictive clothing. But this time, the swelling persisted for eight weeks.

Tutterow reached out to her primary care physician and scheduled a full diagnostic mammogram and a subsequent journey through diagnostic mammograms, biopsies and MRI scans. The screenings found a small lump and her doctors recommended a lumpectomy.

“I spent a lot of time discussing the procedure with my husband, Bruce,” she says. “We really wanted to grow our family, and I kept wondering what if the cancer comes back.”

When she brought these concerns up with her doctors, they referred her to Edward Kubek, MD, for a more aggressive surgery option a full mastectomy and reconstruction.

A few weeks later, she and her husband went to the IU Health Ball Cancer Center for a consultation.

“It was like love at first appointment,” says Tutterow, “I immediately liked Dr. Kubek and his team was so knowledgeable about the process and care.” Dr. Kubek’s expertise and rapport with Tutterow and her husband solidified their confidence in their decision.

His office and the nurses helped coordinate everything for her surgery.

A month before the big procedure, Tutterow had her pre-surgery appointment. During the meeting, they went over her measurements and decided what implants to order.

“I wanted to stay proportional, and Dr. Kubek did a great job recommending what size and style of breast to get,” she says. The nurses reviewed her pre-surgery packet and the next time she was at the hospital was for the day of surgery.

When February rolled around, the Tutterow family was prepared for the eight-hour procedure. They would arrive around 6 pm to begin the pre-op meeting with Dr. Kubek. Her mother, Grandma Carney would pick up their daughter from day care and spend the rest of the night with her while Bruce went to the hospital and spent the recovery with Tutterow.

But like a classic Indiana winter, the biggest blizzard of the year decided to start. The light flakes turned into a full-on snowstorm. Roads were blocked and Grandma Carney was delayed in showing up.

“I knew I was in safe hands, so I told my husband to take care of our kid instead of me during recovery,” says Tutterow.

Bruce was only allowed into the hospital once because of COVID-19 restrictions. If he went to the pre-op meeting, he wouldn’t be allowed to leave and come back throughout surgery or recovery. So, he stayed home with their toddler until Grandma Carney was able to make it for the overnight.

The doctors and nurses called him regularly and updated him on the information and how the surgery was going. Once Grandma Carney showed up, Bruce was able to go to the hospital, and the couple spent recovery together.

The procedure went well; there weren’t any complications. Dr. Kubek visited her before she left and showed her how to put on a gauze bra.

She spent six weeks recovering, and their family dog never left her side.

“Obviously my life changed a little bit,” says Tutterow, “but everything was fine because I was educated and knew what was happening.” Her care team even sent her a get well soon card.

One week after surgery, she was ready to remove her drains. Dr. Kubek had her transition from gauze to a form fitting sports bra. On the third week of recovery her tubes and stitches were pulled. By the fifth week, Dr. Kubek gave a final recovery check and saw that everything was healing properly.

Today, she is working on regaining strength, but she hardly ever needs to wear a bra, and her scars are almost invisible.

“Choosing the aggressive surgery felt fright for me and my family,” she says with a newfound confidence. She continues to spend time caring for her preschooler and dog, while resuming work at a clinic.

Related Services

Featured Providers

Edward W. Kubek, MD

Plastic Surgery

View More Providers