Livestrong: Exercise after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

Livestrong: Exercise after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Yesterday I began my Journey with the Livestrong program as a breast cancer survivor and to increase exercise after DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  I found out about the program when I switched oncologists in early April this year.  My oncologist discussed my overall health. I expressed my concerns about being on an AI (aromatase inhibitor) and the side effects it can have including bone loss. I told her I wanted to remain strong and fit and do what I could to maintain or increase my bone density and overall strength. She handed me a pamphlet and with a smile on her face expressed her support of the Livestrong program at the local YMCA.  I called Annemarie, the Vice President of Corporate and Community Partnerships, at our local facility to get on the list to start the program. It took a couple of months Continue Reading →

Intimacy ~ Touching your breasts after DIEP flap surgery

Intimacy ~ Touching Your Breasts after DIEP flap Surgery This blog has been sitting in my archives for quite some time.  Intimacy and touching your breast after DIEP flap surgery seems like an unabashed topic to write about. The intimacy of the content and the shared photos delayed my writing. Respect for my fellow DIEP flap sisters and touching your breasts after this surgery is not something every woman wants to do. I know this to be true because I talk to women who feel this way. I fully respect all the complexities that surround the new sensation of your DIEP flap breasts.  The purpose of my blog is to share my experience and in some way, empower breast reconstruction patients to embrace their new breasts after they have healed from surgery and to feel comfortable touching their newly reconstructed breasts. If my suggestions and story work for you, I 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 →

My Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later

Double Mastectomy: Three Years Later May 15, 2014, I was sitting in a hospital room recovering from a double mastectomy.  Why am I smiling so much in the photo?  The answer: I just finished a phone conversation with my parents.  They live a little over one thousand miles from me.  I couldn’t believe how little pain I was in and how good I felt.  It was important to me that they hear my voice. Both my Mother and Father were in disbelief that I was calling them. Just 24 hours before, they were on alert at their home waiting for the phone call to let them know I was out of surgery and doing well.  When I mentioned to them I was heading home in a couple of hours after the call, they were even more surprised.  I could hear the sense of relief in their voices over the phone. Continue Reading →

You Come First after Breast Reconstruction

You Come First after Breast Reconstruction One of the best pieces of advice I can give to those I talk to planning their surgery, “You come first after breast reconstruction.”  It is a very difficult concept and mantra to adopt when you are so used to caring for others.  It is particularly challenging for those who go into breast reconstruction feeling healthy and fit, going about their daily routine of cooking, cleaning, carpooling, mothering, caring for others, and working a full-time job.  A sudden change in that routine is hard to wrap your mind around.  Believe me, it stops very suddenly after breast reconstruction but it IS temporary and so worth taking the time to put yourself first. We don’t realize how much bending, twisting, and lifting we do each day.  I have been on the phone with individuals answering questions about the recovery process.  While I am speaking with 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 →

Tummy Tightness after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

Tummy Tightness after DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction I speak to many women who ask about tummy tightness after DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  The emphasis of the questions focus on how long the tightness will last and adjusting to the new feeling. When DIEP flap breast reconstruction is performed women also have the advantage of getting something that mimics a tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty.  The technical aspects of that surgery are well explained here at the Microsurgeon.org website.  Here is a quote from the page: The tissue used for DIEP breast reconstruction contains skin, fat, and blood vessels. It is the same tissue area that is discarded in the classical cosmetic surgical abdominoplasty – also known as the tummy tuck. Your Newly Altered Tummy I want to make an analogy about that tummy tightness after DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  When you buy a new pair of jeans that are Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits A question was posed to me recently about breast reconstruction travel and post-op visits. The question was this: Terri – when you traveled for your DIEP, did you travel back/ forth for all the follow up visits also?  So, wondering how all the follow up visits go in a situation like this? How long did you stay in SA while recovering? It is an important question to ask. I had the same question before my own DIEP flap surgery.  DIEP flap is a very specialized breast reconstruction surgery using the patient’s own tissue.  There are few qualified micro-surgeons who perform it with a high rate of success and have amassed a great number of flap surgeries performed.  When the numbers are extrapolated, there is not even one in every state.  It makes sense, then, that to find a highly-qualified micro-surgeon, patients frequently must travel for Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Sights and Sounds of the Hospital Your senses can become fine tuned to the sights and sounds of the hospital stay after your DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  Whether you have been in hospital before or not there are many things to deal with when you are out of the comfortable environment of your own home and bed.  Our five senses, taste, touch, sight, smell, hearing, connect us to everything around us.  Let’s look at what that means while recovering from DIEP flap breast reconstruction during your hospital stay. Tastes The taste that you have in your mouth post-surgery can only be described by the individual.  My perception is one of a medicinal, antiseptic taste.  You have been anesthetized for a long period and the drugs used will linger on the tongue.  Your mouth will be dry and you will not be allowed fluids of any kind 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 →