Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery

Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery This is a perfect weekend to write a tribute honoring my Father and his support during my DIEPflap surgery.  My father is in his late 80’s now so watching me go through DIEPflap breast reconstruction two and half years ago was not an easy process for him.  He knew nothing about this type of surgery.  My Dad’s generation and friends who had radical mastectomies and survived breast cancer never knew of the options to rebuild one’s breasts after they had to be removed after a breast cancer diagnosis.  It was just assumed that the loss was part of the plan and how you would continue to live your life. I gently guided Dad and Mom through the process and why I chose to have DIEPflap breast reconstruction after my second breast cancer diagnosis.  I will admit, it was tough.  His main concern for Continue Reading →

National Cancer Survivor Day 2017 Celebrating all Survivors

National Cancer Survivor Day 2017 National Cancer Survivor Day 2017 is a movement in the fight against cancer.  How, might you ask, does that fit into my wheelhouse of educating about breast reconstruction options after mastectomy?  Yes, mastectomy!  And there is your answer.  Every person I engage with on social media, each patient I talk to about planning a course of action to reconstruct their breasts, the research and education I seek to understand and share revolves around those who have had or will be having a mastectomy because of breast cancer or a high likelihood of getting it due to a BRCA gene mutation.  My engagement through my Foundation work involves those individuals who have chosen the profession of plastic surgery, oncology, radiology, and breast surgery to serve those individuals affected by breast cancer.  Most importantly, is involves the community of survivors. How did this all happen for me Continue Reading →

My Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later

Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later May 15, 2014, I was sitting in a hospital room recovering from a double mastectomy.  Why am I smiling so much in the photo?  The answer: I just finished a phone conversation with my parents.  They live a little over one thousand miles from me.  I couldn’t believe how little pain I was in and how good I felt.  It was important to me that they hear my voice. Both my Mother and Father were in disbelief that I was calling them. Just 24 hours before, they were on alert at their home waiting for the phone call to let them know I was out of surgery and doing well.  When I mentioned to them I was heading home in a couple of hours after the call, they were even more surprised.  I could hear the sense of relief in their voices over the phone. Continue Reading →

I Hope You Dance #InternationalDanceDay

I Hope You Dance #InternationalDanceDay I hope you dance on #InternationalDanceDay!  This is a story of two friends, both breast cancer survivors who are connected by one song and a passion for dance.  This story is long overdue! My friend Susan and I met as young mothers.  She had three sweet and charming daughters.  I had two amazing and delightful sons.  We spent many hours watching our youngest children play together.  Time passed and Susan and I parted ways geographically but to this day we remain close friends. I received a dreaded phone call in November of 2000 that I never expected to get.  Susan called from across the country to tell me she had breast cancer.  I began to cry on the phone.  I just wanted to be there to hug her.  I remember her words exactly.  She said, “Terri, I didn’t call to make you cry.”  That statement Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears Why do patients fear surgery for breast reconstruction?  It’s just another piece of the anxiety puzzle after a breast cancer diagnosis.  You’re faced with the dreaded news that a best or only option for your treatment plan is a mastectomy.  Lose my breasts?  Your head starts reeling and you think about what you will look like losing the body parts that most defines you as a woman.  There will be scars, pain, recovery, time away from a job and family, anesthesia, medical and insurance costs, and oh yes, what about getting all that cancer out of my body during surgery!  The list goes.  I decided to explore some of these fears in a poll.  I asked members of a Facebook page I manage in support of those going through breast reconstruction.  What they fear and what they go through in their diagnosis and decision to have Continue Reading →

Holiday Wishes on the Journey

Holiday Wishes on the Journey This is the time of year to send holiday wishes on the Journey.  If I could wrap up in boxes all the stories shared, both happy and sad, those who have been on this Journey through breast reconstruction, I don’t think there would be a space large enough to place those wrapped boxes.  We have shared struggles, triumphs, waiting for results, preparation, anticipation of surgery, celebrating completion of the reconstructive process; the list goes on. Who are we here on the Journey? We are a global community that stretches beyond cultural borders and continents.  We are women and men who have heard those dreaded words, “You have breast cancer” or “You are BRCA positive”.  Through your research, a friend, or physician you found the Journey.  You told us your personal story.  Some are still in treatment waiting to go through the reconstructive process.  Others have Continue Reading →

When the Seemingly Fearless become Fearful

When the Seemingly Fearless become Fearful The title of this blog, “When the seemingly fearless become fearful”, was etched out of a discussion I had with a fellow cancer survivor.  Stephie is a childhood cancer survivor and donor heart recipient, but most importantly, a dear friend.  We became friends through social media and the patient advocacy work we do.  Our phone chat earlier this week centered around my fear.  This was my week to have blood work for tumor markers.  I am still on a four-month protocol cycle for these since my second breast cancer diagnosis in 2014.  I am grateful they have all been within the normal range since my second diagnosis.  However, these events do not pass without triggering my PTSD about recurrence. Stephie is such a great listener and encouraged me that this week’s blog should be about “when the seemingly fearless become fearful. Breast Friends on Continue Reading →

Pink & Blue Colors of Hereditary Cancer

Pink & Blue Colors of Hereditary Cancer I am not a BRCA gene carrier but tonight I will be hosting the premier of the movie, Pink & Blue Colors of Hereditary Cancer, in my city.  What is my interest then, you might ask? My Journey Through Genetic Testing I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in 2014.  I had a double mastectomy because the cancer was in both breasts this time.  I knew a double mastectomy was the best course of action for me after asking, educating myself, researching, and having that all important, shared decision making discussion with my health care team.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age the first time. This was my second occurrence.  Those two criteria alone were enough evidence for my breast surgeon and oncologist to recommend that I have genetic testing.  From the National Cancer Institute: Several 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 →

Ray of Sunshine after Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Ray of Sunshine after Breast Cancer Diagnosis It just doesn’t seem that a ray of sunshine might even play into the discussion the day I was told I had breast cancer does it?  There actually was that one ray of sunshine for me and here is that story. The Breast Cancer Diagnosis The day of my second breast cancer diagnosis I was sitting in the office of my breast surgeon, Dr. Michele Ley, who I had seen about five years previously to remove a benign area in my left breast.  I chose to go to her because I was very impressed with her demeanor, compassion, confidence and skill for that minor surgery five years ago.  I was asked by the radiologist who did my biopsy for this second diagnosis if I had a breast surgeon in mind to go over the final results of the biopsy report.  I immediately asked Continue Reading →