Breast Cancer Patients Paying It Forward

Breast Cancer Patients Paying It Forward I have met so many breast cancer patients paying it forward after they have been diagnosed with the disease. I see these pay it forward breast cancer survivors writing blogs and sharing their lived experience. Some breast cancer survivors have opened nonprofit organizations to support and assist others going through healing and recovering from the devastation this disease can have on a person. Still others have become fierce advocates. They research and explore the science of breast cancer, clinical trials or they “go to the hill” to make policy changes in breast cancer care. It is inspiring and honestly keeps me focused and stimulated to continue my own DiepCFoundation work. I was recently the beneficiary of a breast cancer patient paying it forward from her own nonprofit organization, Nadia Strong, Beautiful Beyond Breast Cancer. Nadia’s mission is to empower women through breast cancer with 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 →

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 →

Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery?

Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery? I ask myself this question often: Why do I marvel at breast reconstruction & plastic surgery? October was a busy month for many who work in this field and educate about this topic. I think it was one of the busiest months I had this year. I was in six states and six different airports engaging with or educating about breast reconstruction with plastic surgeons, patients, advocates, and the public. I was exhausted yet exhilarated to know the innovations and developments in the field of breast reconstruction and plastic surgery continue to keep me motivated and captivated. It has been three years since my own breast reconstruction and yet, thinking back to November of 2014 and having no breasts on my body, it is easy to understand my own fascination with this topic. When you use your own tissue to Continue Reading →

How Long Does DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take?

How Long Does DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take? This is a question I wanted to write about after attending PSTM17 in Orlando as a patient advocate. Speaking to ASPS board certified plastic surgeons at the meeting afforded me the opportunity to understand the answer to, how long does a DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery take? It is an intricate, microsurgical procedure that includes incisions and work on both the abdominal area and the breast area. The assumption is, the surgery is long. In fact, when assessing my own DIEP flap, I often report my DIEP flap lasted nine hours. What we don’t often take into consideration is what the surgery entails from start to finish. I reviewed my own surgical report to write this blog. I also spoke with plastic surgeons at PSTM17 and wanted to share some important points of discussion. I gathered information from my sister, a nurse, 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 →

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 →