A Patient Advocacy Story

A Patient Advocacy Story Breast Reconstruction Awarenss Day 2015, a patient advocacy story, begins with an inspirational moment; a moment that was a true catalyst to a new found purpose in my life. Where was the inspiration? Why would a patient become an advocate and subsequently an affiliate to promote a nationwide campaign for breast reconstruction awareness following a cancer diagnosis and mastectomy? Easy answer! The plastic surgeon I chose to do my DIEP flap surgery and the patient liaison that was my first point of contact at their group WAS my starting point. When something feels right, I move on it. It was my moment of inspiration. I was asked to share my reconstruction surgery experience with other women who were considering the same type of surgery. I wanted to pay it forward and let other women know about this group, their skill, success rate, credentials, compassion and the Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Consult: The Physical and Technical Component

Breast Reconstruction Consult: The Physical and Technical Component This blog discusses your breast reconstruction consult, the physical and technical component of your DIEP flap surgical visit with your plastic surgeon.  I wrote part one dealing with the emotional and psychological aspects of the visit here and another blog on the abdominal examination portion of your consult here.  Your plastic surgeon will work with his nurse at this initial consult to gather all the pertinent information needed to optimize your surgical results for your DIEP flap surgery. Each of us goes into this appointment with unique circumstances in terms of both our bodily structure and overall physical health.  I will walk you through my own personal case but know that yours will be exclusive to your situation.  However, there will be similarities and my hope is to give you an idea of the steps that are done during this consult and Continue Reading →

5 Things to Look for: Hospital, PRS: DIEP flap Surgery

5 Things to Look for: Hospital, PRS: DIEP flap Surgery Here is your list of 5 things to look for in a hospital and plastic reconstructive surgeon (PRS) before your DIEP flap surgery.   The list could fill a book; however, the purpose of this blog is to hit on five important topics that may well be priorities on the patients’ list of items to inquire about before surgery. No. 1 ~ Hospital Accreditation This might not be a question that you would even think to ask.  But, the reputation and accreditation of the hospital facility that your plastic surgeon practices at should be of great importance to you for your reconstructive surgery.  Odds are, you have been extremely wrapped up in the details of your breast reconstruction surgery and the outcome itself, but knowing the official endorsement of the facility is just as important.  When hospitals are accredited through national Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Consult DIEP flap Surgery: The Power of Two

Breast Reconstruction Consult DIEP flap Surgery: The Power of Two You may bring someone with you to your breast reconstruction consult for your DIEP flap surgery but it is the power of two, you and your plastic surgeon, that are the two key players at this all important appointment.  This topic is worthy of a two part blog.  Part 1 will touch on the potential emotional and psychological aspects of the visit and part 2 will discuss the actually physical and technical part of the visit.  I have learned a lot reflecting on the experience of my first visit with my plastic surgeon.  I have gained yet a different perspective from speaking with other women about their experience and what this involved for them. What I do know is this; the appointment needs to be a home run for both you and your plastic surgeon.  You need and want to Continue Reading →

Ray of Sunshine after Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Ray of Sunshine after Breast Cancer Diagnosis It just doesn’t seem that a ray of sunshine might even play into the discussion the day I was told I had breast cancer does it?  There actually was that one ray of sunshine for me and here is that story. The Breast Cancer Diagnosis The day of my second breast cancer diagnosis I was sitting in the office of my breast surgeon, Dr. Michele Ley, who I had seen about five years previously to remove a benign area in my left breast.  I chose to go to her because I was very impressed with her demeanor, compassion, confidence and skill for that minor surgery five years ago.  I was asked by the radiologist who did my biopsy for this second diagnosis if I had a breast surgeon in mind to go over the final results of the biopsy report.  I immediately asked Continue Reading →

National Cancer Survivors Day: Where Do I Begin?

National Cancer Survivors Day: Where Do I Begin? June 5, 2016 is National Cancer Survivors Day and it is difficult to know where to begin to condense my thoughts about this day as a two time survivor of breast cancer.  There is a very dark side for many survivors.  I’ve had those days; diagnosis, telling your loved ones, surgeries, chemo, radiation, medication, side effects.  But oh those glorious bright days!  Let’s take a look at both. The Dark Side of Cancer Survivor-ship: The Ugly Vortex I have always equated cancer to an ugly vortex.  When you first hear the words that you have cancer that vortex begins its whirling mass of sucking many people into it. Being a cancer survivor does not affect just the individual with the diagnosis. Your spouse, partner, children, family and friends become survivors of sorts as well.  They weren’t asked to take on the role Continue Reading →

Managing Surgical Drains with Drain IQ

Managing Surgical Drains with Drain IQ Managing surgical drains post mastectomy and post breast reconstruction is one of the biggest grievances I hear when I speak to women about their surgery after breast cancer.  I was in that club after my own DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  I used the paper recording sheet provided by the hospital to track drain output.  Keeping track of that piece of paper and diligently recording drain output each and every time I stripped those drains was a necessary evil and part of the process for the duration they were stitched to my body. Managing Output Using your Phone? But, how many of us today have our phones with us almost as an appendage?  I am surprised to hear from ladies while still in hospital after their surgery, texting and posting on social media that they are out of surgery and recovering.  That is the brilliance Continue Reading →

What to Communicate with the Radiologist when Imaging the DIEP Flap Reconstructed Breast

What to Communicate with the Radiologist when Imaging the DIEP Flap Reconstructed Breast A Guest blog from Danielle Carroll, MD To image or not to image the reconstructed breast- that is the question…Well, actually the first question.  I am not going to tackle that topic here, but Dr. Chrysopoulo discusses this in his article “Mammograms and MRI after Reconstruction- Are They Needed?” .  However, if you decide to proceed with imaging follow-up, what is important for you to know about imaging the reconstructed breast, and how can you best convey your reconstruction status to the reading radiologist?   The reconstructed breast will undergo many changes over the first several years post reconstruction, some of which will be visible externally, some may only be seen by imaging.  The two most important pieces of information to convey to the scheduler and/or technologist are 1.  Your history of mastectomy with soft tissue reconstruction Continue Reading →

A Mother and her Sons

A Mother and her Sons I was encouraged to write a blog about a Mother and her Sons by a friend of mine who began reading my blog about a year ago.  I have avoided it until now not because I didn’t want to write it but I knew the complete emotional fortitude it would take for me to pen my feelings about my two sons.  Mother’s Day will be celebrated soon.  I love Mother’s Day because of my sons but writing this blog is appropriate each day I am a mother to these two amazing and imperfectly perfect men. What they have been asked to do as sons is beyond what anyone would want their children to go through but these two stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the ball park when it came to taking care of me not once, but twice during breast Continue Reading →

Road Map to Success for DIEP Flap Surgery: Fluorescence Imaging

Road Map to Success for DIEP Flap Surgery: Fluorescence Imaging A Patient’s Story Would you take a road trip before consulting a map, planning out your best route with the least amount of obstacles to drive around or through? Think of the SPY Elite Fluorescence Imaging System in this way for breast reconstruction surgery.  DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery is a specialized and intricate process that women have the option of choosing to rebuild their breasts after a mastectomy.  It is what I chose after a second breast cancer diagnosis. Patients are savvy, engaged, customers these days with the internet and social media to guide them in learning about the surgical procedures that they are facing.  DIEP flap surgery is intricate, long and must be done by a well-qualified microsurgeon. Choosing this profession is a passion for a majority of physicians because they are transforming lives after breast cancer.  It Continue Reading →

Guest blog: Wojciech Dec, MD

Guest blog: Wojciech Dec, MD I recently connected with  Wojciech Dec, MD after he came across my website and he asked to write a guest blog explaining the various types of breast reconstruction.  Dr. Dec is a member of The American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgeons.  ASRM is a resource I list for patients to check to see if a micro-surgeon is a member when they are seeking a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction. I particularly like his title. So with that introduction, here is Dr. Wojciech Dec’s guest blog.  The Alphabet Soup of Breast Reconstruction Surgery (Making sense of all the acronyms: TRAM, free TRAM, MS-TRAM, DIEP, SIEA, GAP, PAP, TUG, LD.)   by Wojciech Dec, MD   When I first meet with a patient to discuss her options for breast reconstruction we take a step back and look at the big picture to avoid getting bogged down in the Continue Reading →