The Duchess of York endured a punishing eight-hour operation as surgeons battled breast cancer, it can be revealed today.Last week it emerged that Sar
Last week it emerged that Sarah Ferguson, 63, had been diagnosed with the disease and had undergone a successful single mastectomy at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London.
But The Mail on Sunday can today reveal the full extent of her exhausting ordeal including four days in intensive care at the private hospital where the duchess was monitored around the clock.
Last night, a friend of the duchess, who is now back at home, said: ‘The surgery was very long – getting on for eight hours – and it was more involved than people think. Today, the message she wants to get out is that she is very grateful to those who saved her and she feels very lucky to be alive.
‘Specifically, the duchess wants to thank the two incredible surgeons Christina Choy and Stuart James who carried out the operation and all the medical team who worked tirelessly to help her.’
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, undergone an operarion to treat breast cancer
The 63-year-old was diagnosed with the disease and has undergone a successful single mastectomy at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London
Last week she told friends that she is facing a ‘long road’ to recovery but is determined to ‘beat it’.
Recovering at home at Royal Lodge, Windsor, where she lives with ex-husband Prince Andrew she has the full support of her family.
Her younger daughter, Princess Eugenie, has ‘all but moved in’ to help look after her mother while sister Princess Beatrice is said to be a frequent visitor and ‘constantly on the phone’.
Andrew has been on hand to help and friends and family have been rallying around to provide hot meals and run errands.
A Buckingham Palace source confirmed that the King had also written to his former sister-in-law, sending his sincere wishes for a speedy recovery.
A Palace insider said that plans for the Yorks to move out of Royal Lodge and into Frogmore Cottage, Harry and Meghan’s former home, have been ‘quietly shelved’ for now.
The duchess’s cancer nightmare began less than two months ago when a routine test first detected something was seriously wrong before the Coronation.
In early May, Sarah attended an appointment in London for a mammogram. Rather than being given the all-clear, as expected, the technician explained that a ‘shadow’ could be seen in the breast.
A source close to the duchess said: ‘Most people usually associate breast cancer with a lump but that’s not always the case.
Pictured: Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie with their mother
Andrew has been on hand to help and friends and family have been rallying around to provide hot meals and run errands
‘A lump can be detected by the patient, but this was a “shadow”, which can go undetected because it’s a wider spread of cancerous cells that can be picked up through screening. In Sarah’s case, a biopsy was taken from the shadowy area of tissue and a few days later the results came back to confirm the diagnosis – breast cancer.’
Given the size of the area, a lumpectomy was ruled out and Sarah was strongly advised to go ahead with a single mastectomy, which would eradicate the shadow of cancerous cells across the breast. Sarah was said to be devastated but determined to press ahead with a mastectomy as soon as possible, telling friends she had ‘no choice’ but to go through with the operation.
Christina Choy was the surgeon who carried out the mastectomy.
Once it was complete, consultant plastic surgeon Stuart James, who was once hailed as one of the country’s top breast doctors by Tatler magazine, then took over, performing a breast reconstruction with the ‘DIEP flap’ technique. By coincidence, Mr James is known to Prince William.
In 2013 the heir to the throne attended an operating theatre at The Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea where Mr James explained the procedure of a breast reconstruction. The special procedure is so complex that only highly skilled surgeons are allowed to attempt it.
It involves making an incision in the abdomen and taking fat from the stomach to form a new breast.
Experts say this can take more than six hours because it involves microvascular surgery which involves cutting and then re-joining delicate 2mm blood vessels.
But the length of time under the general anaesthetic took its toll on Sarah Ferguson, whose vital signs were then monitored in intensive care for four days.
Just days after being released from hospital, she is said to be in ‘good spirits’. A friend said the duchess had joked the type of reconstruction – taking excess fat from the stomach to form a new breast – meant she would effectively be benefiting from a tummy tuck. They added: ‘Sarah was even joking before the operation that she was looking forward to being slimmer as a result of the fat being taken from her stomach for the breast reconstruction and that she would start a healthy kick, eating right and exercising.
‘She said, “Soon we can go out together in white skinny jeans.” Her strength through this all has been an inspiration.’
The Duchess of York, whose stepfather Hector Barrantes died from lymphatic cancer in 1990 at the age of 51, has long been a champion for the charities working to combat the disease.
In November that year she opened a specialist cancer unit at the Middlesex Hospital in London for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Since then, Sarah has become a patron of the charity, attending almost all of the charity’s new unit openings. Over the years, her daughters Beatrice and Eugenie have both joined their mother in supporting the charity.
Sarah said that both princesses spent their 18th birthdays visiting teenage cancer units.
Revealing her own cancer battle before her operation, Sarah Ferguson said in her podcast: ‘I volunteered to work for the Teenage Cancer Trust… because my stepfather died of cancer.
‘He was a wonderful man. I adored him.’
A source said that, after a period of recovery, the duchess intended to ‘spread the word’ and work to raising awareness of the importance of early cancer detection.
She told her podcast: ‘I’m telling people out there to go get checked. Go get screened. Go do it. I’m not just talking about breast cancer but all cancers.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk