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 →

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

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 →

Anesthesia Recovery Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction

Anesthesia Recovery Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Anesthesia recovery after fat grafting breast reconstruction as well as for phase one DIEP flap breast reconstruction have  similarities.  I will, however, focus on my most recent experience, phase two and the fat grafting portion of breast reconstruction. Anesthesia Preparation The routine for this surgery includes check-in at the hospital, dressing into surgical garments, and being wheeled into the surgical holding area to talk to your physicians before surgery.  It has been my experience that the first physician you speak to is the anesthesiologist.  The anesthesiologist will go over your health history.  One of the key topics they ask you about is your tolerance to anesthesia and if you experience nausea when waking up from surgery.  This is a dreaded side affect for many going into any type of surgery. I have been very fortunate waking up nausea free from phase one and phase Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting: Breast Reconstruction – Prep, Packing and Pre-op

Fat Grafting: Breast Reconstruction – Prep, Packing and Pre-op Fat grafting for breast reconstruction requires prep, packing (if you will be traveling to your plastic surgeon) and a pre-op routine before your surgery and the morning of your surgery.  This was my personal experience for my most recent fat grafting.  There may be subtle differences as each plastic surgeon has their own protocols but there will be similarities to give you a sense of what you will need to do. Insurance Coverage This was my second fat grafting.  Insurance does not always cover the cost of a second fat grafting in breast reconstruction.  This will depend on the amount of fat grafting that needs to be done, areas that need to be addressed to achieve symmetry, and of course your insurance coverage.  It is getting challenging for plastic surgeons to cover additional fat grafting beyond the first one that is Continue Reading →

Inspirational Connections through Breast Cancer

Inspirational Connections through Breast Cancer A true blessing and bonus of educational outreach is inspirational connections through the breast cancer community.  I recently received an email from Cinde and she humbly asked to write a guest blog about how she came to develop her drain carrier after surviving breast cancer three times.  Like me, Cinde has undergone DIEP flap breast reconstruction .  Naturally, I was curious to hear her story and after reading it I am honored to share this guest blog.  Cinde is not only providing a product for breast cancer patients but her outreach became global and continues to positively impact women in Karunga, Tanzania. Thank you for sharing this guest blog to the breast cancer community, Cinde. Post-Op Drain Management and the Mamas of Kilimanjaro   I’m a four-time cancer survivor, three-time breast cancer survivor.   After being diagnosed with cancer so many times — and surviving Continue Reading →

Hidden Costs of Traveling: Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Hidden Costs of Traveling: Breast Reconstruction Surgery No one knows the hidden costs of traveling for breast reconstruction surgery more than the patient themselves.  I just returned from recent fat grafting as part of my own my own DIEP flap breast reconstruction. The costs are fresh in my mind and I feel it is an important topic to write about. The WHCRA (Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998) is outlined in this article. A portion of the article states: This federal law requires most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction. It was signed into law on October 21, 1998. The United States Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services oversee this law. The devil is in the details.  Look carefully at the wording, especially the word, “most”.  Insurance is becoming challenging for both patients and physicians.  Costs, restrictions, increased deductibles and co-pays Continue Reading →