Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears

Breast Reconstruction Surgery Fears Why do patients fear surgery for breast reconstruction?  It’s just another piece of the anxiety puzzle after a breast cancer diagnosis.  You’re faced with the dreaded news that a best or only option for your treatment plan is a mastectomy.  Lose my breasts?  Your head starts reeling and you think about what you will look like losing the body parts that most defines you as a woman.  There will be scars, pain, recovery, time away from a job and family, anesthesia, medical and insurance costs, and oh yes, what about getting all that cancer out of my body during surgery!  The list goes.  I decided to explore some of these fears in a poll.  I asked members of a Facebook page I manage in support of those going through breast reconstruction.  What they fear and what they go through in their diagnosis and decision to have Continue Reading →

Holiday Wishes on the Journey

Holiday Wishes on the Journey This is the time of year to send holiday wishes on the Journey.  If I could wrap up in boxes all the stories shared, both happy and sad, those who have been on this Journey through breast reconstruction, I don’t think there would be a space large enough to place those wrapped boxes.  We have shared struggles, triumphs, waiting for results, preparation, anticipation of surgery, celebrating completion of the reconstructive process; the list goes on. Who are we here on the Journey? We are a global community that stretches beyond cultural borders and continents.  We are women and men who have heard those dreaded words, “You have breast cancer” or “You are BRCA positive”.  Through your research, a friend, or physician you found the Journey.  You told us your personal story.  Some are still in treatment waiting to go through the reconstructive process.  Others have Continue Reading →

A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16

A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16 I unexpectedly had a tearful golden moment at #PSTM16 the last evening I was there.  #PSTM16 was the first conference I have attended since opening a non-profit 501c3 Foundation to support and empower patients with education about options in breast reconstruction.  I will have many more blogs to write about my experience at the conference but this was truly a golden moment for me in more ways than one. An Evening of Celebrating Twitter Connections and Friendships It was at one of many special events that occurred at the conference.  This particular event was arranged by Dr. Karen Horton, one of the many talented plastic surgeons I engage with on Twitter and other social media venues to push out valuable information to patients interested in breast reconstruction.  The event was sponsored by Allegan and it was an absolutely lovely evening.  Allergan made it memorable Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction ~ Concealing Scars After Mastectomy

Breast Reconstruction ~ Concealing Scars After Mastectomy Breast reconstruction and concealing scars after mastectomy is a certainty for patients post surgery.  There are those who bravely bare their scars as a symbol of strength and what they have been through.  But for many, hiding the scars of breast reconstruction is a skill and becomes a sort of creative art. Various Surgeries ~ Various Scars There are abdominal scars and breast scars if you have had DIEP flap breast reconstruction.  LAT flap will leave you with scars on your back and breasts.  TUG flap will leave you with breasts and inner thigh scars.  PAP and GAP flap will leave scars at the breasts and buttocks areas.  Those who have immediate breast reconstruction will likely have the least amount of scars on their breasts, but scars nonetheless. Placement of scars is a topic that should definitely be brought up in the initial Continue Reading →

Inspirational Connections through Breast Cancer

Inspirational Connections through Breast Cancer A true blessing and bonus of educational outreach is inspirational connections through the breast cancer community.  I recently received an email from Cinde and she humbly asked to write a guest blog about how she came to develop her drain carrier after surviving breast cancer three times.  Like me, Cinde has undergone DIEP flap breast reconstruction .  Naturally, I was curious to hear her story and after reading it I am honored to share this guest blog.  Cinde is not only providing a product for breast cancer patients but her outreach became global and continues to positively impact women in Karunga, Tanzania. Thank you for sharing this guest blog to the breast cancer community, Cinde. Post-Op Drain Management and the Mamas of Kilimanjaro   I’m a four-time cancer survivor, three-time breast cancer survivor.   After being diagnosed with cancer so many times — and surviving Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Consult DIEP flap Surgery: The Power of Two

Breast Reconstruction Consult DIEP flap Surgery: The Power of Two You may bring someone with you to your breast reconstruction consult for your DIEP flap surgery but it is the power of two, you and your plastic surgeon, that are the two key players at this all important appointment.  This topic is worthy of a two part blog.  Part 1 will touch on the potential emotional and psychological aspects of the visit and part 2 will discuss the actually physical and technical part of the visit.  I have learned a lot reflecting on the experience of my first visit with my plastic surgeon.  I have gained yet a different perspective from speaking with other women about their experience and what this involved for them. What I do know is this; the appointment needs to be a home run for both you and your plastic surgeon.  You need and want to Continue Reading →

A Mother and her Sons

A Mother and her Sons I was encouraged to write a blog about a Mother and her Sons by a friend of mine who began reading my blog about a year ago.  I have avoided it until now.  Not because I didn’t want to write it but I knew the complete emotional fortitude it would take for me to pen my feelings about my two sons.  Mother’s Day will be celebrated soon.  I love Mother’s Day because of my sons. Writing this blog seems appropriate each and every day I am a mother to these two amazing and imperfectly perfect men. This is not Fair for My  Two Sons! What they have been asked to do as sons is beyond what anyone would want their children to go through.  These two stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the ball park when it came to taking care Continue Reading →

The Psycho-social and Psycho-sexual Benefits of Breast Reconstruction

The Psycho-social and Psycho-sexual Benefits of Breast Reconstruction The psycho-social and psycho-sexual benefits of breast reconstruction have been studied in a number of peer reviewed articles.  Sharing evidence based research is a key component to my advocacy work.  It is important to me that studies have been done and data has been collected from patients who have had reconstruction to assess the impact and outcome of such a complex surgery.  These studies validate the information I share. A Personal Account of the Benefits I did a lot of research before my DIEP flap reconstruction but not specifically about the psycho-social or psycho-sexual benefits.  Keeping that in mind, this blog for me, is truly a personal account of what impact my own reconstruction had on my self-image and femininity.  I am not yet comfortable dipping my toes in the water of revealing the impact on my sexual well being as it Continue Reading →

Shared Decision Making

Shared Decision Making ~ Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy March has been designated Shared Decision Making month, #SDMmonth, by a group I started following on social media, Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.  I participated recently in one of their online webinars on the topic.  I often tweet about shared decision making and in the practice of plastic surgery, and in particular breast reconstruction after mastectomy; I embrace the value of this practice. Two of the physicians that I have engaged with in the practice of shared decision making are my breast surgeon who performed my mastectomy and my micro-surgeon who performed my breast reconstruction.  They both embody the very definition of the phrase as defined here by the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and their providers to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as Continue Reading →

Baldness During Breast Cancer & Chemo

Baldness During Breast Cancer & Chemo Baldness during Breast Cancer & Chemo is not an easy side affect for most women. You could walk around for weeks, months without anyone knowing you have breast cancer unless… wait for it… you’re on CHEMO, especially the type that causes hair loss!!! The sight of a women who is bald is a forgone conclusion and truly screams, “I’m on chemo and have cancer!” It’s just not an easy pill to swallow, excuse the tongue in cheek. Many forms of chemo cause hair loss in women. It did for me and the brave women who volunteered to use their photos to be in this blog post. They all willingly shared their pictures for a reason. We did it to support another woman who is going through chemo as I write this blog. But, whether you have been through chemo, are currently going through chemo, Continue Reading →