An Inspirational Story of a Plastic Surgeon and Breast Cancer Survivor

Without luck on her side, she relied on faith, family, and newfound angel, Dr. Paul Wigoda, MD.
Immerse yourself in this heart-wrenching true story of pain, loss, and triumph, an inspiring tale for anyone who has ever been affected either emotionally or physically by breast cancer. 


breast cancer survivor marcia beaird dr wigoda


In May of 2005, this breast cancer survivor underwent a routine plastic surgery procedure with a plastic surgeon in Miami, unaware of what would follow.  Forty-eight hours after the surgery, she was attacked by a flesh-eating bacteria which had spread to all of the areas she had her plastic surgery procedure. She was rushed to Broward Health suffering miserably, as over 60% of her skin was irreparably damaged; she was in agony, on the verge of death.

Dr. Paul Wigoda, MD was called to treat her. He emergently took her to the operating room, and had to remove most of her skin and fatty tissue in her trunk and thighs to remove the dead infected tissue and stop the infection from spreading further. Due to the massive infection which had spread to her bloodstream, her heart stopped twice during the operation but miraculously, she was brought back to life and survived the night. She was induced into a coma for three months during which time she underwent multiple surgeries to remove more skin and then replace it with skin grafts.  She then had to learn to walk all over again, while searching for a reason to go on, amid excruciating pain, significant deformities, and crushing medical debt.

Dr. Wigoda saved her life and supported her on a grueling path to normalcy. Unfortunately, her trauma wasn’t over, and he would have to save her again. Two years after her trauma, her breasts became enlarged, swollen and painful, from the steroid treatments she required to keep her going as her new skin adjusted.  To ease her pain, Dr. Wigoda scheduled her for a routine breast reduction, but to his dismay, found cancer during the surgery. Less than six weeks after hearing the new diagnosis, she underwent a double mastectomy, with Dr. Wigoda performing follow-up reconstruction.  She had walked a difficult path, losing most of her skin and both breasts, but by the end of 2008 she had new breasts in place and was cancer-free, having overcome every obstacle in her path.  

History tells us the most notable winners usually suffer heartbreaking obstacles before they find triumph.  They won because they refused to be discouraged by defeat and instead found courage, strength, and character.  – excerpt from her book

And she had many defeats!  

Here are words to live by:

We can choose every day which attitude we’ll use to embrace that day. We can’t change the past, the only thing we can do is play with the string we have and that’s our attitude. I’m convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. So it is with you to always be in charge of your attitude no matter what comes to you.

Let this heroic woman’s true-life miracle of survival, faith, and inspiration be the reminder we need for this October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Let’s remind each other to:

  • Get frequent check-ups,
  • Research a trustworthy doctor,
  • Remember there are always bumps in the road,
  • But we can persevere with a strong balance of life, support, and positivity!

If you seek further guidance and a free plastic surgery consultation, contact Dr. Paul Wigoda today to learn more.

BRA Day Q & A with Ft Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Wigoda

Ft Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Wigoda takes a moment to answer some key questions on BRA Day and shares American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) new breast reconstruction planner guide for patients, families of patient and caregivers.

bra dat

Why do you think BRA day is important? It brings awareness both to breast cancer and breast reconstruction. Many women don’t realize they need to have mammograms or they forget or put it off. This is a reminder to think about breast cancer, have a mammogram and at least do a self breast exam. For those women with breast cancer, its important that they know about their options for breast reconstruction. It’s surprising how many women don’t know they have the option or don’t understand them. Surgeons or cancer doctors in some areas do not emphasize breast reconstruction, as they are more concerned with the cancer, and women are not given all of their options. With a little knowledge, they can begin to ask key questions about what can be done after having a mastectomy.

What progress have you seen in the last 10 years for this cause? Overall, there has been an increased awareness of breast cancer, especially with regard to early detection, importance of self breast exams and mammograms, and reconstructive options.

What message do you have for women who have undergone a mastectomy and are not aware of the reconstructive options? Women who have had a mastectomy or have been diagnosed with breast cancer should speak to a plastic surgeon who does breast reconstruction. It’s preferable to have this conversation before having any surgery, as the reconstruction can often be done at the same time as the mastectomy.

What advice would you give women looking for options post mastectomy? To look for a board certified plastic surgeon who devotes a significant percentage of his practice to breast reconstruction and is experienced in the latest techniques, so that all options can be discussed. There have been many advances in surgical techniques in the last 10 years,  it would be preferable to consult a surgeon with experience using these advanced techniques.