DIEP flap Patient Advocate Prepares for PSTM17

DIEP flap Patient Advocate Prepares for PSTM17 I am a DIEP flap patient advocate currently doing final tweaks and changes in preparation for Plastic Surgery the Meeting, PSTM17.  Wheels will be off the ground early Thursday morning to fly out to Orlando. PSTM17 will be held at the Orange County Convention Center for a five-day event full of education sprinkled with a bit of fun around the Walt Disney World theme park. Last year at PSTM16 in Los Angeles, I walked into the LA Convention Center amazed and overwhelmed, feeling like a little girl walking into Disney World for the first time. I wondered around both wide-eyed and a bit frightened at times since that was my first medical conference. Everyone was welcoming and friendly from staff, vendors, to all the plastic surgeons I was finally able to meet after “knowing” them only through social media. The classes I attended Continue Reading →

DEXA Scan after Breast Cancer & DIEP flap

DEXA Scan after Breast Cancer & DIEP flap It is important for many breast cancer patients to monitor their bone density health. This is a segment of a comprehensive article from the National Institute of Health. Women who have had breast cancer treatment may be at increased risk for osteoporosis and fracture. Estrogen has a protective effect on bone, and reduced levels of the hormone trigger bone loss. Because of treatment medications or surgery, many breast cancer survivors experience a loss of ovarian function and, consequently, a drop in estrogen levels. Women who were premenopausal before their cancer treatment may go through menopause earlier than those who have not had breast cancer. Results from the NIH-supported Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS) found an increase in fracture risk among breast cancer survivors. I recently had a DEXA scan and I was pleased with my results.  Let me explain why. I Continue Reading →

LIVESTRONG Class Assessment: Ready to Roll

LIVESTRONG Class Assessment: Ready to Roll Last week at our Livestrong class we had personal assessments and now we’re ready to roll.  We broke into groups to assess endurance, balance, flexibility, and strength.  This was a baseline assessment to track our progress through the three-month class. Since we divided into small groups with one trainer for each group, it was great to see the support and comradeship among class members.  We are all at different levels of treatment, recovery, and survivorship. There is breast cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, and brain cancer survivors. Some are using walkers or a cane for balance while others are former marathon runners who inspire me with their desire to push their physical limits at the YMCA program. Our trainers carefully watch each participant to keep us all safe within our own personal goals and boundaries. Endurance was tested with a timed three-minute walk around cones.  Continue Reading →

New Game Changer App for Anyone Impacted by Breast Cancer

New Game Changer App for Anyone Impacted by Breast Cancer I am a breast cancer survivor.  I have had breast cancer twice.  I had two lumpectomies my first diagnosis.  I relied on the visits to my oncologist and breast surgeon to inform me of my options and what the treatment, side effects, and recovery would be like that included chemotherapy and radiation.  That was in 2002.  My second diagnosis in 2014 resulted in double mastectomy.  I wore prosthesis for seven months before I decided on DIEP flap breast reconstruction. Many patients complain that their surgeons essentially just old them what their treatment would involve without much discussion.  What if someone said you can be actively involved in deciding your breast cancer treatment plan?  Many of us use a variety of apps on our mobile devices and computers every day. Those apps serve many different purposes to suit our individual needs. Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →

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 →