This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections
Education about breast reconstruction options after breast cancer and mastectomy: This is what happens through DIEP flap connections. Two women living in two different parts of the country, one surgeon, a plastic surgery team, and a desire by all to educate and inform!
I traveled to have my DIEP flap breast reconstruction in December of 2014 at PRMA in San Antonio, Texas. I was connected to another woman, Rhonda, now a “breast friend”, through PRMA when she became interested in DIEP flap. I was part of the Pink Ladies Support Group at PRMA. This group speaks to other women about their own experience and traveling to have DIEP flap.
Rhonda, like me, was interested in booking her surgery with Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo.
I received the following email the morning of January 25, 2016.
Hey gals! Dr. C has an out of state patient named Rhonda who will be coming here for DIEP surgery soon. She would love to hear from you about your experiences and where you stayed while you were here.
Thanks in advance for reaching out to her! She is a wonderful gal!
The Friendship Grows DIEP-er!
I was one year out of my DIEP flap surgery and I had been writing about it in this blog. I reached out to her in a phone call and Rhonda and I quickly became friends. She was from the Midwest like I was. I told her how skilled and compassionate Dr. C was. I assured her I felt confident it would be worth a trip to see him to have her DIEP flap. She had a mastectomy with expanders in September of 2015 that sadly had to be removed the next month in October due to infection. She was ready to see a micro-surgeon who could fix this and be rebuilt using her own tissue!
When she arrived in San Antonio for her DIEP flap surgery in March of 2016 I received several texts from Rhonda as the concerns and anticipation mounted days before her surgery. Dr. C did amazing work rebuilding her breasts just as he had done for me.
Rhonda joined the closed/private Facebook group that I administer to support those going through and healing from breast reconstruction. Our friendship continued to grow through phone conversations, texts, laughter, and shared experiences. Our favorite joke was to tease Dr. C about his love of country music, mostly because we both knew it was his least favorite genre!!
DIEP Connections and Education Continue to Grow
Last summer when I opened a nonprofit Foundation to broaden education and support for those seeking information about breast reconstruction, Rhonda jumped on board. She wanted to know what she could do to help spread that education. She has shared her story with women in her hometown over dinner. Rhonda asked if I would mail Foundation brochures so she could share them at various venues and physicians’ offices in her area. I was honored and touched.
Dr. C has always been an inspiration to us both when it comes to shared decision making and educating other women about options, risks, recovery, and the benefits of DIEP flap breast reconstruction. It seems fitting to share the photos that we both took with Dr. C at various points in our own Journey just before surgery. Apparently, I was a bit more shameless than Rhonda insisting that Dr. C wear a surgical hat to make me feel more comfortable. We both love his sense of humor but truly respect his skill above all.
Rhonda is one of many amazing women I have met through this often-difficult Journey. It is those friendships, however, that make the Journey meaningful. Rhonda took the brochures and cookies to her oncologist celebrating the 2-year anniversary of her diagnosis because milestones are important after you hear the words, “you have breast cancer”. She sent me photos. We decided it was a day to celebrate and for me to write a blog about the plastic surgery group and amazing micro-surgeon we both shared.
Dr. C, Rhonda, and myself will continue to educate and inform. I am grateful that this is what happens through DIEP flap connections. Have you met new friends through your breast reconstruction Journey? I’d love to hear your story!
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. ~ Nelson Mandela