WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — After undergoing surgeries and treatments for cancer more than two decades ago, Karen Connal wasn’t a good candidate for an implant to replace the breast she lost.

Instead, Dr. Stirling Craig, a breast surgeon at the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, presented her with another option — using her own tissue for reconstruction.

“They just went over everything,” Connal said. “They showed me what it was going to be like, they showed me pictures of reconstruction — that I could actually have breasts. I was very excited.”

In Connal’s case, that meant taking tissue from her buttock area, and then surgically connecting that fat to her.

“We use a microscope to connect the vessels, kind of like a kidney transplant or a heart transplant, but in this case, it’s just tissue, just fat,” Craig said.

He said the using a patient’s transplanted fat can help breast tissue heal from previous surgeries or radiation. It also lasts for life.

Six months later, Connal was riding a horse.

She urges women who have breast cancer to not be afraid.

“We have a choice, and the choice is to fight, and to be positive and to recover,” Connal said.