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 →

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 →

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 →

Quality of Life: DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

Quality of Life: DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Do you ever consider how your quality of life has changed after DIEP flap breast reconstruction?  The study from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal compares three groups of women; those who have undergone DIEP flap breast reconstruction, women who chose no reconstruction or a method other than DIEP flap, and those in the general population who did not have breast cancer or reconstruction.  The questionnaire studies long-term quality of life after DIEP flap. A statement from the study: The DIEP technique also provides better QOL than no breast reconstruction or reconstruction using other methods, according to the study by Dr. Vincent Hunsinger of Georges Pompidou European Hospital, Paris, and colleagues. They write, “Our results indicate that DIEP breast reconstruction allows patients with breast cancer to maintain a good QOL in the long-term.” The definition of quality from the English Oxford Living dictionary: Continue Reading →

Psychological Benefits of Breast Reconstruction

Psychological Benefits of Breast Reconstruction There have been many articles written over the years regarding the psychological benefits of breast reconstruction.  When a woman or man loses a body part to breast cancer it seems reasonable to expect one would experience upset and psychological trauma no less than any other amputee.  However, the decision to remedy the amputation of the body part through breast reconstruction is not an easy process.  It means more surgery, recovery, dealing with possible side effects and complications, time off work, support from loved ones, research, and acceptance there will be lifelong scars. One of the driving factors to move forward with my own breast reconstruction after my mastectomy was to remedy the “psychological distress” I was experiencing from the loss of my breasts.  It took a full week after my mastectomy for that psychological anguish to hit home in a figurative and literal sense.  This Continue Reading →

Possible Risks and Complications of Breast Reconstruction

Possible Risks and Complications of Breast Reconstruction I recently had the privilege of discussing some of the of possible risks and complications of breast reconstruction with Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo from PRMA plastic surgery.  The interview was done for #AllThingsCancer a program put out by the Anti-Cancer Club.  The two basic choices for breast reconstruction after mastectomy are implant based and autologous breast reconstruction (“flaps”).  There are pros and cons to each option.  What is important to emphasize is that for most patients, each option usually includes a staged approach involving more than one procedure for the best results. Implant breast reconstruction involves replacing the tissue removed by the mastectomy with a saline or silicone filled implant.  In most cases, a temporary implant known as a tissue expander is placed first to help shape the new breast.  The tissue expander is then replaced by a permanent implant at a second surgery. Autologous “flap” techniques Continue Reading →

ERAS ~ Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

ERAS ~ Enhanced Recovery After Surgery I love it when I can say, “I learned something new today” and last week it was about ERAS, Enhanced Recovery After Surgery.  I was having a conversation with the plastic surgeon who performed my DIEP flap breast reconstruction, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo.  I asked him if there were new protocols or changes in patient care during recovery in the two years since my DIEP flap surgery.  A smile came across his face and I could tell he couldn’t wait to tell me about ERAS.  He eloquently told me about the philosophy and implementation of this protocol and I was captivated.  It must have been the look of complete amazement on my face because he smiled and said, “You should write a blog about it.”  Nothing like a little challenge from a world class micro-surgeon to bequeath a bit of pressure for my next writing Continue Reading →

Burns in Reconstructed Breasts after Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction

Burns in Reconstructed Breasts after Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction An article published in Medscape.com on burns in breasts after mastectomy which also included after breast reconstruction admittedly left me riveted.  Look at this statement from the article: Together with this case series, the literature suggests the most common heat sources responsible for the identified burns included: Heat conduction: using heating pads, hot liquids, and hyperthermia devices. Solar radiation: sunbathing with a dark swimsuit or using a sun lamp. Heat convection: using hair dryers. A close examination of this article and the above-mentioned items leads me to conclude that the most common culprits are household items and sunbathing.  I was given literature regarding post-surgical care from the plastic surgeon who performed my DIEP flap breast reconstruction to clearly avoid heat of any kind to my reconstructed breast, including standing with my back to the shower as well as sunbathing. I personally Continue Reading →

#SABCS 2017 through a Patient Advocate’s Lens

#SABCS 2017 through a Patient Advocate’s Lens #SABCS 2017 through a patient advocate’s lens is about my experience at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (#SABCS) 2017.  Two descriptive words that sum it up quickly from my personal standpoint are, exhilarating and exhausting.  I am an advocate for breast reconstruction options after mastectomy.  That is my wheelhouse so I carefully contemplated the benefits of attending.  But, there is no breast reconstruction without breast cancer.  I found it to be a profound conference on many levels both intellectually and emotionally and well worth the experience. A Robust Patient Advocacy Program My decision to attend was solidified after learning about the robust patient advocacy program that SABCS has.  Each evening, after the general sessions, patient advocates would gather to listen to selected “hot topics” of the day.  We could listen, interact, and ask questions. There were notable speakers and leaders in the Continue Reading →