Livestrong First Class: Exercise after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

Livestrong First Class: Exercise after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Today was the first class of the Livestrong program.  I am a patient advocate for DIEP flap breast reconstruction and decided to document various points during this three-month program to give others in my community an idea of what to expect.  I do know each program is set up a bit differently and not all YMCAs across the country have the program.  I was told today it is worth calling the Livestrong Program to see if there is another facility in the area other than the YMCA.  They might be doing something similar. Today’s agenda at my YMCA: Meet and greet: Introduce yourself by saying something positive that has made you smile and happy in the past six months. My response: “My grandson, because he always makes me smile!” Filling out forms: The forms will help the trainers assess our various Continue Reading →

Summer Blogging Challenge!

Summer Blogging Challenge! Summer blogging challenge accepted fellow blogger, Nancy!  I have had a whirlwind week but after reading three responses from fellow bloggers, you, Rebecca Hogue, and Britt Lee, how could I not chime in? I have another fellow breast cancer and breast reconstruction pal coming to visit this weekend so my answers are going to be short and well…. hopefully sweet! Share anything you want about your cancer diagnosis (or your loved one’s). Share your age, cancer type, stage, when you were diagnosed, family history (if any), your reaction, how you learned the news, or whatever you’re comfortable sharing.  Diagnosis #1: 2002 included two lumpectomies; 18 weeks of chemotherapy including the “red devil” that landed my Irish ass in the hospital with low blood counts; 6 weeks of daily radiation; 5 years of Tamoxifen Early stage; No family history… yep, I’m the designated family poster child…. That’ll do Continue Reading →

Delayed DIEP flap vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction

Delayed DIEP flap vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction Having delayed DIEP flap breast reconstruction and waking up with breast after being a breast amputee following a mastectomy is different for those who have immediate breast reconstruction. Having breast reconstruction of any kind due to breast cancer or a gene mutation is a fierce undertaking.  The women I speak to planning and recovering from surgery go through a range of emotions from diagnosis, finding they carry a gene mutation that puts them at high risk for breast cancer and through the decision to move forward with breast reconstruction. Those Range of Emotions Vary Here is a list that I often here as I discuss and speak to those planning reconstruction: sadness in losing your original breasts fear of surgery anxiety in the aesthetic outcomes worry about the new feeling of reconstructed breasts concern about their sexuality after breast reconstruction relief knowing the Continue Reading →

Livestrong: Exercise after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

Livestrong: Exercise after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Yesterday I began my Journey with the Livestrong program as a breast cancer survivor and to increase exercise after DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  I found out about the program when I switched oncologists in early April this year.  My oncologist discussed my overall health. I expressed my concerns about being on an AI (aromatase inhibitor) and the side effects it can have including bone loss. I told her I wanted to remain strong and fit and do what I could to maintain or increase my bone density and overall strength. She handed me a pamphlet and with a smile on her face expressed her support of the Livestrong program at the local YMCA.  I called Annemarie, the Vice President of Corporate and Community Partnerships, at our local facility to get on the list to start the program. It took a couple of months Continue Reading →

From Nipple Sparring Mastectomy to DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

From Nipple Sparring Mastectomy to DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction A nipple sparring mastectomy to DIEP flap breast reconstruction can be a very successful surgical process after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I want to share my success story and reference articles that I have been reading about nipple sparring mastectomy (NSM). My NSM Experience: Breast Surgeon I credit my breast surgeon, Dr. Michele Boyce Ley, and my plastic surgeon, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo, for the success of my nipple sparring mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction. My NSM process began in my breast surgeon’s office the day we consulted about next steps after my second breast cancer diagnosis. She was very hopeful but realistic about saving my nipples while performing my double mastectomy knowing I had in mind that I wanted DIEP flap later. The MRI scan ordered prior to my mastectomy led her to make this pre-surgical assessment due to Continue Reading →

My #Tweet Story from Science Camp

My #Tweet Story from Science Camp This is my #Tweet Story from science camp, otherwise known as Project LEAD you will not believe what happened.  Before I get to that part of the story let me back up a little and fill in some details. Years ago, when I started my Twitter account I was attempting to bring more attention to a non-profit.  I was a board member and wanted to spread the word about what we did.  I mainly followed on local businesses with hopes of finding sponsors.  I soon learned Twitter was for more than finding sponsors. Twitter is a wealth of knowledge in 140 words or less, commercials of sorts that did not make noise.  I could browse and tweet without anyone knowing.  No noise and a cancer diagnosis brought me to the new reason I was on Twitter.  There were positive quotes and cancer information.  New Continue Reading →

My Experience as a LEAD Graduate

My Experience as a LEAD Graduate I want to share my experience as a recent LEAD graduate and patient advocate. Project LEAD is part of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.  The Project LEAD Institute strongly supports the education and involvement of patient advocates in both research, action, and the education of the community they serve both locally and nationally.  You can read more about it here.  This is a portion of a statement from the web page giving you a sense and focus of the LEAD graduate program: The Project LEAD® Institute is a six-day intensive science course for breast cancer advocates covering the basics of cancer biology, genetics, epidemiology, research design and advocacy. I learned about the program through two fellow breast cancer survivors, Michael Singer, a male breast cancer survivor, and Terry Arnold, an advocate for the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Community.  I met them both at SABCS, San Antonio Breast Cancer Continue Reading →

This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections

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 Continue Reading →

Intimacy ~ Touching your breasts after DIEP flap surgery

Intimacy ~ Touching Your Breasts after DIEP flap Surgery This blog has been sitting in my archives for quite some time.  Intimacy and touching your breast after DIEP flap surgery seems like an unabashed topic to write about. The intimacy of the content and the shared photos delayed my writing. Respect for my fellow DIEP flap sisters and touching your breasts after this surgery is not something every woman wants to do. I know this to be true because I talk to women who feel this way. I fully respect all the complexities that surround the new sensation of your DIEP flap breasts.  The purpose of my blog is to share my experience and in some way, empower breast reconstruction patients to embrace their new breasts after they have healed from surgery and to feel comfortable touching their newly reconstructed breasts. If my suggestions and story work for you, I Continue Reading →

International Day of Yoga

International Day of Yoga June 21 was proclaimed the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations in December of 2014.  I am certain there will be many celebrations across the globe practicing various levels and difficulties of this popular practice for mind, body, and spirit. The benefits of yoga are many for all ages.  I remember with great fondness the days I brought my kindergarten students in from recess when they were all wound up from being on the playground and practiced a bit of yoga with them before we would start a lesson.  We would sit quietly on the rug in circle, legs crossed, thumbs touching the middle finger as the back of the palm laid gently on the top of their knees.  I would ask them to close their eyes and take deep breaths and slowly breath out with a gentle, “Ohmmm”.  It refocused and quieted them Continue Reading →