Support During DIEP Flap Surgery
Finding support during DIEP flap breast reconstruction is paramount to the success and recovery of your surgery. When I speak to others who are contemplating this type of breast reconstruction one of the first questions I ask is, “Do you have a support system?” I follow that with the statement, “You will need it for this surgery!”
Support during DIEP flap can include a variety of individuals both personal and professional. I wanted to take a retrospective look at the support women had for their DIEP flap surgery. I posted this question in the on-line support group I administer for breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
Name the three people who you found the greatest support from during your own DIEP flap breast reconstruction process.
Breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, family members and friends can look at the replies from these women who have already had DIEP, who it was that gave them the most strength, and why. I believe we can all learn some lessons about what to say and how to help from reading their heartwarming responses.
These are the groups of people DIEP flap patients listed in their responses and why they found great support in these individuals.
- My rock, my best friend, and my confidant.
- He lost his mom unexpectedly 3 weeks before surgery. We were both going through a lot but we found a way to still be there for each other.
- He stayed with me in the hospital every night.
- My husband showed unconditional love & kept me focused to heal physically and emotionally.
Support from my Mom
- She got me into my general surgeon and plastic surgeon since she was a nurse at the center I would be going to.
- My Mom went with me to appointments & asked questions and wrote down information when I “zoned out”.
Support from my Daughter
- Even though she lives hours away she sent texts, did Facetimes, and made calls to me daily. She keeps a smile on my face!
Support from Friends
- My friend called me daily to console me in the months before surgery.
Support from Nurses
- I got great support from the night shift nurse the first three days post-surgery.
- I had great support from the nurse at my PS’s office because she always returned my voice mail or emails.
- The nurse at my plastic surgeon’s office was easy to reach & just so kind!
- The nurse at my plastic surgeon’s office. I always felt secure and any questions I asked, she made it easy for me to understand the answers.
- The nurses at the hospital; They were so skilled and fixed any little issue. They knew exactly how to help me progress and not be afraid of the pain.
Support from Faith and God
- I loved this answer. Many don’t always acknowledge the insurmountable courage it takes to make the decision to have this surgery.
Support from My Breast Surgeon
- My breast surgeon called my home to give me the results because he knew I’d be upset, but, he always remained positive and optimistic.
- My breast surgeon had a great working relationship with my plastic surgeon.
- My breast surgeon was thorough and her gentle demeanor made things easier.
- She told me all my options for breast reconstruction. She was knowlegeable and knew about DIEP flap and called it the “gold standard” for breast reconstruction. Now I know why and I am so glad I chose it!
Support from my Plastic Surgeon
- He fought with the insurance company for weeks to get approval. He told me he would have done the reconstruction no matter what they decided.
- My plastic surgeon was present, patient, and affirmed how I felt. He listened to what I wanted.
- He said to my husband the morning of surgery: “She’s perfect and will remain perfect!”
- My plastic surgeon took time to understand me & wanted to know all my options before he even examined me.
- I trusted him and knew I was in good hands along the way.
- He made me feel confident in his abilities from the start.
- My plastic surgeon told me, “Cancer survivors are his favorite patients because our gratitude gives so much meaning to his life.”
- My gratitude is off the charts for my plastic surgeon because of his amazing skill set and the team he works with. I feel whole again!
- She told me to trust my body during my skin and tissue necrosis while I was healing.
- She is a wonderful balance of professional surgeon & caring compassionate woman.
- One of the first things my plastic surgeon said to me at my initial consult was, “You’ve been through a lot, haven’t you?” I knew then I was going to be treated as a person and not a plastic surgery patient. Compassionate statements go a long way when you’ve been through breast cancer and you’ve lost your breasts.
What Can We Learn from These Responses?
My hope is that those who are part of the support system for DIEP flap patients can read this and learn what it is that gives the greatest strength. There are actionable items and words that we can take away from these responses that will help us all enhance the DIEP flap experience for friends, family, and patients.
I would love to hear your story and where you found support during your DIEP flap surgery.
Thank you to the Journey members who so willingly shared their stories!