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 →

Being an Affiliate for Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day

Being an affiliate for Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day Many physicians, individuals, and organizations across the United States and the world choose to be affiliates for Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day.  Why?  A breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating, overwhelming and life altering both emotionally and physically.  We know that one in eight women will be diagnosed with some type of breast cancer in 2016 and well over 2,000 men.  Unfortunately, less than 23% of patients know what their options are for breast reconstruction after mastectomy.  That is the answer to why so many have chosen to become affiliates for Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. “Closing the Loop” on Breast Cancer The message of the campaign is to “close the loop” on breast cancer.  Many women and men face surgery to remove the cancer and this surgery often leads to loss of one or both breasts, and thereby disfigurement.  “Closing the loop” means Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day BreastReconstruction Awareness Day has gone global and that’s great news for breast cancer patients!  The focus of these events is to educate and raise awareness about options for breast reconstruction after mastectomy.  Many of these events are held in the month of October in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The choice to have breast reconstruction is a very personal one.  It involves a great deal of planning and requires a lot of information to make the best possible decision for each individual patient, both female and male.  It is not for everyone but the key take away and message of the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day campaign is that everyone has the right to be given the information and to be educated about this topic. Breast Reconstruction after mastectomy is rarely a one-step surgical procedure.  Most reconstruction options require more than one stage.  What are those Continue Reading →


#BreastCancerRealityCheck The hash tag #BreastCancerRealityCheck was ushered in on October 1, 2016.  The purpose was to bring awareness to the true reality of breast cancer.  Social media participants were given the opportunity to speak through this hash tag and tweet about how breast cancer has affected them personally, professionally and otherwise.  Here’s what @curmdgeo (AKA Cancer Curmudgeon… love the name!) says about the hash tag. On October 1st, include #BreastCancerRealityCheck every time you tweet your truth. It can be a personal story, a picture, facts that people need but do not get from the sugarcoated coverage of this devastating disease. #BreastCancerRealityCheck Not Over! Ever! October 1st has come and gone.  October has not.  #BreastCancerRealityCheck should be revisited more than once a year, in my humble opinion.  Why?  Because this year alone an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., Continue Reading →

A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16

A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16 I unexpectedly had a tearful golden moment at #PSTM16 the last evening I was there.  #PSTM16 was the first conference I have attended since opening a non-profit 501c3 Foundation to support and empower patients with education about options in breast reconstruction.  I will have many more blogs to write about my experience at the conference but this was truly a golden moment for me in more ways than one. An Evening of Celebrating Twitter Connections and Friendships It was at one of many special events that occurred at the conference.  This particular event was arranged by Dr. Karen Horton, one of the many talented plastic surgeons I engage with on Twitter and other social media venues to push out valuable information to patients interested in breast reconstruction.  The event was sponsored by Allegan and it was an absolutely lovely evening.  Allergan made it memorable Continue Reading →

Goals: #Plasticsurgery #BreastReconstruction, #PSTM16

Goals: #Plasticsurgery #BreastReconstruction, #PSTM16 Goals: #PlasticSurgery, #BreastReconstruction, #PSTM16 are what I’ve been rolling over in my mind for the past few days.  Tomorrow, September 23, 2016, bright and early as the sun rises I will board a plane to Los Angeles to the largest plastic surgery convention of the year, Plastic Surgery the Meeting 2016, #PSTM16. My goals for the meeting Attend educational events focused on the breast reconstruction aspect of plastic surgery. Explore and understand the latest practices and developments in breast reconstruction. Engage with vendors to learn about their products. Ask these vendors why their product is so important in the breast reconstruction process. Catch up on any new legislative news pertaining to #BreastReconstruction. Learn as much as I can about tips in networking and Social Media for #BreastReconstruction and #plasticsurgery. Report back to patients in blogs about what I have learned at the meeting. Meet more board Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction ~ Concealing Scars After Mastectomy

Breast Reconstruction ~ Concealing Scars After Mastectomy Breast reconstruction and concealing scars after mastectomy is a certainty for patients post surgery.  There are those who bravely bare their scars as a symbol of strength and what they have been through.  But for many, hiding the scars of breast reconstruction is a skill and becomes a sort of creative art. Various Surgeries ~ Various Scars There are abdominal scars and breast scars if you have had DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  LAT flap will leave you with scars on your back and breasts.  TUG flap will leave you with breasts and inner thigh scars.  PAP and GAP flap will leave scars at the breasts and buttocks areas.  Those who have immediate breast reconstruction will likely have the least amount of scars on their breasts, but scars nonetheless. Placement of scars is a topic that should definitely be brought up in the initial Continue Reading →


My #REASONS2STANDUP? What are my #REASONS2STANDUP?  Tonight is the #StandUp2Cancer telecast.  According to a live interview today on Facebook with Katie Couric, this is an effort of collaboration among scientist and not one of competition.  She was seen with a colon cancer patient and Dr. William Nelson, Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.  This is a night to support and honor all those facing cancer. I was actually told about this movement from my oldest son soon after my second cancer diagnosis in May of 2014.  I have to say I was a bit misty-eyed when I received a text from him asking me if I was following the group on Facebook. This is my #REASON2STANDUP!  Two years ago, we were in doubt if I would ever see his then unborn son, my grandson.  Two years ago, I watched my youngest son describe my 2nd Continue Reading →

Amy Black ~ Tattoo Artist

Amy Black ~ Tattoo Artist Amy Black is a talented and compassionate tattoo artist.  Her work with breast cancer and BRCA patients is nothing short of inspiring.  She owns Amy Black Tattoo.  From her website: In 2011, Amy began working in another field of tattooing known as “nipple and areola repigmentation” or “mastectomy tattooing” as a part of breast reconstruction for patients post mastectomy due to breast cancer or BRCA diagnosis. When Art Transcends Emotion There are times when art truly transcends emotion in a very positive and powerful way.  This message could not have been more apparent to me than after my conversation with her on Anti-Cancer Club.  Along with hosts Stephie and Pat we sat mesmerized by this woman’s commitment to post-mastectomy patients.  Amy is an individual who exudes the statement, “The universe is larger than I am.”  Listening to her message, hearing about her work transforming the Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery Fat grafting after breast reconstruction recovery is a much quicker process especially if you have had DIEP flap surgery.  Phase one is typically a six week recovery.  The fat grafting surgery is typically day surgery and you will be back home or back at your lodging that evening if you have traveled for the procedure. I addressed the side effects of anesthesia here.  Another post written about post surgical garments after fat grafting can be read here.  I wanted to outline some common side effects of the fat grafting procedure and what you can expect in this blog. Fatigue during Recovery When you wake up from surgery you will be shaking off the anesthesia and will feel fatigued for a period of roughly a week.  This will depend on each individual and the extent of the surgery.  We each bounce back at different rates and Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments Fat grafting breast reconstruction garments will vary depending on your particular procedure and where the fat is taken from to be injected back into your breasts.  The practice of using compression garments also varies among plastic surgeons. Fat grafting is done to achieve symmetry after implants are placed or autologous flap surgery is done.  There are often areas that have a look of indentation or a divot after phase one of DIEP flap or after implants are placed for breast reconstruction.  These are the areas that benefit from fat grafting. It was my experience that a fuller, smoother and more uniform look to my breasts was achieved from both of my fat grafting procedures.   The appearance of your breasts when you wake up from surgery will be slightly different after six months due to a couple of factors; you are swollen after surgery and some Continue Reading →