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 →

#WorldTeacherDay: A Teacher’s Journey through DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

#WorldTeacherDay: A Teacher’s Journey through DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Today is #WorldTeacherDay. This quote is taken from one website explaining the purpose behind this day. The United Nations’ (UN) World Teachers’ Day celebrates the role teachers play in providing quality education at all levels.  This enables children and adults of all ages to learn to take part in and contribute to their local community and global society. That is why I signed up for this profession. I was certain my years in the classroom would continue after I completed my M.Ed. by mentoring new teachers into this vocation.  I wanted classrooms to be filled with passionate, well-trained educators providing quality education. A second breast cancer occurrence in 2014 changed my course a bit. I began a Journey through DIEP flap breast reconstruction. I put my education on hold after a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction seven months later. Little did Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →