Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits A question was posed to me recently about breast reconstruction travel and post-op visits. The question was this: Terri – when you traveled for your DIEP, did you travel back/ forth for all the follow up visits also?  So, wondering how all the follow up visits go in a situation like this? How long did you stay in SA while recovering? It is an important question to ask. I had the same question before my own DIEP flap surgery.  DIEP flap is a very specialized breast reconstruction surgery using the patient’s own tissue.  There are few qualified micro-surgeons who perform it with a high rate of success and have amassed a great number of flap surgeries performed.  When the numbers are extrapolated, there is not even one in every state.  It makes sense, then, that to find a highly-qualified micro-surgeon, patients frequently must travel for Continue Reading →

ERAS ~ Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

ERAS ~ Enhanced Recovery After Surgery I love it when I can say, “I learned something new today” and last week it was about ERAS, Enhanced Recovery After Surgery.  I was having a conversation with the plastic surgeon who performed my DIEP flap breast reconstruction, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo.  I asked him if there were new protocols or changes in patient care during recovery in the two years since my DIEP flap surgery.  A smile came across his face and I could tell he couldn’t wait to tell me about ERAS.  He eloquently told me about the philosophy and implementation of this protocol and I was captivated.  It must have been the look of complete amazement on my face because he smiled and said, “You should write a blog about it.”  Nothing like a little challenge from a world class micro-surgeon to bequeath a bit of pressure for my next writing Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital Your senses can become fine tuned to the sights and sounds of the hospital stay after your DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  Whether you have been in hospital before or not there are many things to deal with when you are out of the comfortable environment of your own home and bed.  Our five senses, taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing, connect us to everything around us.  Let’s look at what that means while recovering from DIEP flap breast reconstruction during your hospital stay. Tastes The taste that you have in your mouth post-surgery can only be described by the individual.  My perception is one of a medicinal, antiseptic taste.  You have been anesthetized for a long period and the drugs used will linger on the tongue.  Your mouth will be dry and you will not be allowed fluids of any kind Continue Reading →

Burns in Reconstructed Breasts after Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction

Burns in Reconstructed Breasts after Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction An article published in Medscape.com on burns in breasts after mastectomy which also included after breast reconstruction admittedly left me riveted.  Look at this statement from the article: Together with this case series, the literature suggests the most common heat sources responsible for the identified burns included: Heat conduction: using heating pads, hot liquids, and hyperthermia devices. Solar radiation: sunbathing with a dark swimsuit or using a sun lamp. Heat convection: using hair dryers. A close examination of this article and the above-mentioned items leads me to conclude that the most common culprits are household items and sunbathing.  I was given literature regarding post-surgical care from the plastic surgeon who performed my DIEP flap breast reconstruction to clearly avoid heat of any kind to my reconstructed breast, including standing with my back to the shower as well as sunbathing. I personally Continue Reading →

Restored Breast Sensation: Breast Reconstruction

Restored Breast Sensation: Breast Reconstruction I am a patient who has restored breast sensation after breast reconstruction.  As a patient advocate who educates and speaks to hundreds of women and men about all options for breast reconstruction I am aware that many who choose breast reconstruction experience numbness and a variety of new sensations in their reconstructed breasts. I am referencing a recent article in the New York Times, After Mastectomies, An Unexpected Blow: Numb New Breasts. I respect but don’t fully understand the statements from patients experiencing numbness regarding their experience with their own reconstructed breasts.  Specifically, these: The statement under the photo taken from the article Re “Mastectomy, Then Shock: Lost Feeling” (front page, Jan. 30): Dane’e McCree with her daughters, Marleigh, left, and Brooklyn, in Grand Junction, Colo. “I can’t even feel it when my kids hug me,” Ms. McCree said after a breast reconstruction surgery. Credit Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears Why do patients fear surgery for breast reconstruction?  It’s just another piece of the anxiety puzzle after a breast cancer diagnosis.  You’re faced with the dreaded news that a best or only option for your treatment plan is a mastectomy.  Lose my breasts?  Your head starts reeling and you think about what you will look like losing the body parts that most defines you as a woman.  There will be scars, pain, recovery, time away from a job and family, anesthesia, medical and insurance costs, and oh yes, what about getting all that cancer out of my body during surgery!  The list goes.  I decided to explore some of these fears in a poll.  I asked members of a Facebook page I manage in support of those going through breast reconstruction.  What they fear and what they go through in their diagnosis and decision to have Continue Reading →

Holiday Wishes on the Journey

Holiday Wishes on the Journey This is the time of year to send holiday wishes on the Journey.  If I could wrap up in boxes all the stories shared, both happy and sad, those who have been on this Journey through breast reconstruction, I don’t think there would be a space large enough to place those wrapped boxes.  We have shared struggles, triumphs, waiting for results, preparation, anticipation of surgery, celebrating completion of the reconstructive process; the list goes on. Who are we here on the Journey? We are a global community that stretches beyond cultural borders and continents.  We are women and men who have heard those dreaded words, “You have breast cancer” or “You are BRCA positive”.  Through your research, a friend, or physician you found the Journey.  You told us your personal story.  Some are still in treatment waiting to go through the reconstructive process.  Others have Continue Reading →

#SABCS 2017 through a Patient Advocate’s Lens

#SABCS 2017 through a Patient Advocate’s Lens #SABCS 2017 through a patient advocate’s lens is about my experience at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (#SABCS) 2017.  Two descriptive words that sum it up quickly from my personal standpoint are, exhilarating and exhausting.  I am an advocate for breast reconstruction options after mastectomy.  That is my wheelhouse so I carefully contemplated the benefits of attending.  But, there is no breast reconstruction without breast cancer.  I found it to be a profound conference on many levels both intellectually and emotionally and well worth the experience. A Robust Patient Advocacy Program My decision to attend was solidified after learning about the robust patient advocacy program that SABCS has.  Each evening, after the general sessions, patient advocates would gather to listen to selected “hot topics” of the day.  We could listen, interact, and ask questions. There were notable speakers and leaders in the Continue Reading →

When the Seemingly Fearless become Fearful

When the Seemingly Fearless become Fearful The title of this blog, “When the seemingly fearless become fearful”, was etched out of a discussion I had with a fellow cancer survivor.  Stephie is a childhood cancer survivor and donor heart recipient, but most importantly, a dear friend.  We became friends through social media and the patient advocacy work we do.  Our phone chat earlier this week centered around my fear.  This was my week to have blood work for tumor markers.  I am still on a four-month protocol cycle for these since my second breast cancer diagnosis in 2014.  I am grateful they have all been within the normal range since my second diagnosis.  However, these events do not pass without triggering my PTSD about recurrence. Stephie is such a great listener and encouraged me that this week’s blog should be about “when the seemingly fearless become fearful. Breast Friends on Continue Reading →

Two-Year Post DIEP Anniversary

Two-Year Post DIEP Anniversary Today, December 1, 2016 marks my two-year post DIEP anniversary.  Anniversaries are for remembering and celebrating.  That is what I’d like to do in this blog as I recall some of the memories etched in my mind from this day two years ago, in 2014 when my life and my breasts were rebuilt after living with a mastectomy and no breasts for seven long and difficult months.  I want to share those bright moments from that day, fun things I remember, and give hope to those who are newly diagnosed or have their breast reconstruction date on the calendar soon. Good-bye Boobs in a Box! I remember looking at my prosthesis the morning I got up to prepare for surgery.  I bid them a formal and fond farewell as I placed them in the box for the last time.  I traveled with that box more than Continue Reading →