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 →

Delayed DIEP flap vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction

Delayed DIEP flap vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction Having delayed DIEP flap breast reconstruction and waking up with breast after being a breast amputee following a mastectomy is different for those who have immediate breast reconstruction. Having breast reconstruction of any kind due to breast cancer or a gene mutation is a fierce undertaking.  The women I speak to planning and recovering from surgery go through a range of emotions from diagnosis, finding they carry a gene mutation that puts them at high risk for breast cancer and through the decision to move forward with breast reconstruction. Those Range of Emotions Vary Here is a list that I often here as I discuss and speak to those planning reconstruction: sadness in losing your original breasts fear of surgery anxiety in the aesthetic outcomes worry about the new feeling of reconstructed breasts concern about their sexuality after breast reconstruction relief knowing the 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 →

My Experience as a LEAD Graduate

My Experience as a LEAD Graduate I want to share my experience as a recent LEAD graduate and patient advocate. Project LEAD is part of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.  The Project LEAD Institute strongly supports the education and involvement of patient advocates in both research, action, and the education of the community they serve both locally and nationally.  You can read more about it here.  This is a portion of a statement from the web page giving you a sense and focus of the LEAD graduate program: The Project LEAD® Institute is a six-day intensive science course for breast cancer advocates covering the basics of cancer biology, genetics, epidemiology, research design and advocacy. I learned about the program through two fellow breast cancer survivors, Michael Singer, a male breast cancer survivor, and Terry Arnold, an advocate for the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Community.  I met them both at SABCS, San Antonio Breast Cancer Continue Reading →

International Day of Yoga

International Day of Yoga June 21 was proclaimed the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations in December of 2014.  I am certain there will be many celebrations across the globe practicing various levels and difficulties of this popular practice for mind, body, and spirit. The benefits of yoga are many for all ages.  I remember with great fondness the days I brought my kindergarten students in from recess when they were all wound up from being on the playground and practiced a bit of yoga with them before we would start a lesson.  We would sit quietly on the rug in circle, legs crossed, thumbs touching the middle finger as the back of the palm laid gently on the top of their knees.  I would ask them to close their eyes and take deep breaths and slowly breath out with a gentle, “Ohmmm”.  It refocused and quieted them Continue Reading →

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 →

The Importance of Shared Decision Making: Breast Reconstruction

The Importance of Shared Decision Making: Breast Reconstruction What is the importance of shared decision making in breast reconstruction? A recent study published on the JAMA Network site stated this in the Conclusions and Relevance portion of the article: Shared decision making is needed to support decisions about breast reconstruction. Shared decision making is a daunting, yet attainable task, for both surgeon and patient when discussing the risks associated with breast reconstruction.  The article stated: Breast reconstruction has the potential to improve a person’s body image and quality of life but has important risks. Variations in who undergoes breast reconstruction have led to questions about the quality of patient decisions. My breast reconstruction experience was successful even though met with challenges that included out of pocket costs for travel, planning and recovery, calling on family and friends to help with recovery, and subsequent surgeries for scar revision and symmetry.  It 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 →