Waiting for Authorization for Breast Reconstruction

Waiting for Authorization for Breast Reconstruction It can take enormous patience for breast cancer patients who are waiting for authorization for their breast reconstruction procedure. I was once there. Now I am an advocate for all options of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. I interact with patients daily. Many times, their questions are a catalyst for topics to write a blog. Amplifying our voices to educate is part of patient advocacy responsibility. I recently received an email from a patient who was denied coverage for a revision phase of her reconstruction. Her plastic surgeon even wrote an appeal, but it was still denied. She reached out to me for help and suggestions about what to do. I take a deep breath when I get these emails and step out of my breast cancer survivor role and put on my patient advocate hat. I don’t want to offer false hope, but I Continue Reading →

A 3-year Anniversary: Blogging About Breast Reconstruction

A 3-year Anniversary: Blogging About Breast Reconstruction I am celebrating a 3-year anniversary blogging about breast reconstruction on March 17, 2018. When Did I Begin Blogging About Breast Reconstruction? It began as a cathartic experience after having successful DIEP flap surgery in early December of 2014. While I was at home healing, the events and challenges I faced the year after a second breast cancer diagnosis began to flood my thoughts daily. I put my M.Ed. program on hold to focus on my health. I met with a friend and artist in early January, 2015. We sat down together and planned two things; the artistic backdrop and platform for my blog on WordPress and an opening date, March 17, 2015. We are both Irish and it was a good goal. We met many times afterward to hammer out details. We hit our target date and celebrated together over a pint Continue Reading →

We are Journey Strong! #IWD2018

We are Journey Strong! #IWD2018 We are Journey Strong! #IWD2018. We are Journey Strong and today we celebrate each other on #IWD2018! We do not wear black dresses on the red carpet in solidarity at televised award shows. We do not march the streets holding signs to promote our cause. But make no mistake, we are a band of women with strength, grit, compassion, and a sense of solidarity for each other few know about. We are a group of over 1,600 women who have all faced breast cancer and losing our breasts after mastectomy. The only garments and accessories we wear in solidarity are compression garments and surgical drains. Some of us have become entrepreneurs on each other’s behalf to develop products to hold those drains with greater ease after mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery. Some of us have opened nonprofit organizations to support one another financially, spiritually, through Continue Reading →

Caregiver Burnout: Who Is Your Wing Man?

Caregiver Burnout: Who Is Your Wing Man? I have been watching as tragedy unfolds on TV these past two weeks with discussion and protests of yet another violent act in the classroom and brick and mortar I spent so many years and hours in as an educator before opening my Foundation. And yet, it is a blur to me as it runs across news feeds in the hospital room and rehab facility I have spent so much time in the past two weeks. This part of my Journey began February 14, Valentine’s Day. My sister picked me up from the airport and we went straight to the hospital to begin my current role as caregiver to my Dad. The past month has been an emotional mixture for me. This is the first time I have been able to write a blog for weeks. My life was filled to the brim Continue Reading →

Meet my Friend, Patient Advocate & Four-time Breast Cancer Fighter

Meet my Friend, Patient Advocate & Four-time Breast Cancer Fighter This is Terlisa Sheppard. Terlisa is my friend. She is also a patient advocate and four-time breast cancer fighter. Terlisa and I met this past summer at the Project LEAD Institute graduate program along with other amazing patient advocates. I was blessed to see her again in December of 2017 at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) and we put it on our schedule to commit to making this video together. I will visit this blog frequently to listen to her Journey of being a young mother diagnosed with breast cancer and now living daily with the disease. Are you inspired? I think you should be, I really do. To know that cancer is in your body in various organs and continue to look at life with a blessed, grateful disposition is nothing short of God-given, super-human constitution. Be Continue Reading →

Study of Body Mass Index post DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction: A Patient Perspective

Study of Body Mass Index post DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction: A Patient Perspective I rely on research from evidence based journals I read to understand and share the latest information about breast reconstruction and breast cancer to the community I serve. One of the journals I utilize is Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. January is a month many of us focus on health, weight loss, and losing those extra holiday pounds. As a patient advocate who has had autologous, DIEP flap breast reconstruction, I wanted to share my thoughts and perspective from a study of body mass index post DIEP flap breast reconstruction from the December 2017 issue of the Journal : The Impact of Autologous Breast Reconstruction on Body Mass Index Patterns in Breast Cancer Patients: A Propensity-Matched Analysis.  I appreciate the focus of the article. It can be read here from the final Continue Reading →

Collaboration in Educating about Breast Reconstruction

Collaboration in Educating about Breast Reconstruction My favorite word throughout my education career has always been “collaboration”. So is the case now in my role as Founder of DiepCFoundation.org. I couldn’t feel any stronger about collaboration in educating about breast reconstruction. The change leaders I have met in the past three years on my own personal quest to educate more women and men about options in breast reconstruction motivate me daily to do more, explore new avenues to educate, support them in their mission, and stand beside them collaboratively to continue this work. This week on my social media feeds I have seen an announcement by Patricia Anstett that her book, Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction, What’s Right for You, is now out on paperback on Amazon. Congratulations are in order as this was a professional labor of love for Pat. Full disclosure: Yes! I’m featured in the book and Continue Reading →

The Gripping Fear of PTSD after Breast Cancer

The Gripping Fear of PTSD after Breast Cancer This blog is long overdue. I like to write when I’m clear headed and have done research on the topic I am writing about. Not today. Today, on my 62nd birthday, after surviving breast cancer twice, I am once again experiencing the gripping fear of PTSD after breast cancer. Today is emotional while I wait on test results, but I couldn’t feel more determined to finally share why PTSD feels like a choke hold around my throat. It happens when I go for routine tumor markers. I did that today and I wait for the results with fear; fear so many breast cancer patients experience. The wait, the PTSD, it all comes with the heavy burden of hearing you have breast cancer. Our Responsibility as Patient Advocates I spoke to a friend and colleague yesterday, a fellow patient advocate, about our responsibility Continue Reading →

Reflections of Gratitude from DiepCFoundation

Reflections of Gratitude from DiepCFoundation November and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday have given me time to stop and reflect the true feelings of gratitude and this honor given to DiepCFoundation. “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery”, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, published a special forward to their November 2017 supplement issue on “Advances in Breast Reconstruction.” The Journal contacted me prior to publication to let me know Dr. Rod Rohrich would be quoting me in the introduction to this supplement. September was an extremely busy month planning for upcoming conferences, fundraisers, and my own Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. Although, excited, I must admit I didn’t take time to appreciate the true impact of the honor.   I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to the Journal, Dr. Rohrich, the Journal editorial staff, and the many board certified plastic surgeons who tirelessly work to find Continue Reading →

Products for Women after Mastectomy & DIEP Flap

Products for Women after Mastectomy & DIEP Flap I frequently find out about new products through social media connections. A sports bra was introduced to me by a DiepCjourney member, Kimberly Jewett. We chatted at length on the phone about the Empower Bra from Athleta. Connections with other athletic women is real feeling of empowerment, especially in the breast cancer and breast reconstruction community. Feeling fit is an on-going goal for many strong women. It becomes even more of a priority after the assault of a breast cancer diagnosis and the aftermath of treatment and surgeries. I learned about Athleta through a mutual friend and board-certified microsurgeon, Dr. Fawn Hogan. Fawn is the epitome of fitness and I frequently refer to her as my #swolemate. Fawn told me about how much she uses the Athleta brand in her workouts. I ordered a pair of Athleta pants and they are now Continue Reading →