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 →

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 →

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 →

When the Seemingly Fearless become Fearful

When the Seemingly Fearless become Fearful The title of this blog, “When the seemingly fearless become fearful”, was etched out of a discussion I had with a fellow cancer survivor.  Stephie is a childhood cancer survivor and donor heart recipient, but most importantly, a dear friend.  We became friends through social media and the patient advocacy work we do.  Our phone chat earlier this week centered around my fear.  This was my week to have blood work for tumor markers.  I am still on a four-month protocol cycle for these since my second breast cancer diagnosis in 2014.  I am grateful they have all been within the normal range since my second diagnosis.  However, these events do not pass without triggering my PTSD about recurrence. Stephie is such a great listener and encouraged me that this week’s blog should be about “when the seemingly fearless become fearful. Breast Friends on Continue Reading →

Recap #PSTM16

Recap #PSTM16 Plastic Surgery the Meeting may seem like a distant memory but a recap of #PSTM16 from a patient advocate standpoint summarizes the value of my first experience as an attendee.  It was a fast and furious weekend for me at the Los Angeles Convention Center since I was only able to attend Friday through Monday.  I scheduled classes to attend, met with plastic surgeons, and walked the vendor floor learning about products specific to breast reconstruction. The Educational Programs The first class I attended was one that focused on Cultural Competence in plastic surgery.  I wanted to step outside the box of breast reconstruction a bit and understand the broader world of plastic surgery.  It was a valuable instructional course.  The discussion given by a variety of plastic surgeons at this session focused on recognizing and embracing cultural diversity in the workplace among plastic surgery co-workers as well Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting: Breast Reconstruction – Prep, Packing and Pre-op

Fat Grafting: Breast Reconstruction – Prep, Packing and Pre-op Fat grafting for breast reconstruction requires prep, packing (if you will be traveling to your plastic surgeon) and a pre-op routine before your surgery and the morning of your surgery.  This was my personal experience for my most recent fat grafting.  There may be subtle differences as each plastic surgeon has their own protocols but there will be similarities to give you a sense of what you will need to do. Insurance Coverage This was my second fat grafting.  Insurance does not always cover the cost of a second fat grafting in breast reconstruction.  This will depend on the amount of fat grafting that needs to be done, areas that need to be addressed to achieve symmetry, and of course your insurance coverage.  It is getting challenging for plastic surgeons to cover additional fat grafting beyond the first one that is Continue Reading →

5 Things to Look for: Hospital, PRS: DIEP flap Surgery

5 Things to Look for: Hospital, PRS: DIEP flap Surgery Here is your list of 5 things to look for in a hospital and plastic reconstructive surgeon (PRS) before your DIEP flap surgery.   The list could fill a book; however, the purpose of this blog is to hit on five important topics that may well be priorities on the patients’ list of items to inquire about before surgery. No. 1 ~ Hospital Accreditation This might not be a question that you would even think to ask.  But, the reputation and accreditation of the hospital facility that your plastic surgeon practices at should be of great importance to you for your reconstructive surgery.  Odds are, you have been extremely wrapped up in the details of your breast reconstruction surgery and the outcome itself, but knowing the official endorsement of the facility is just as important.  When hospitals are accredited through national Continue Reading →

What to Communicate with the Radiologist when Imaging the DIEP Flap Reconstructed Breast

What to Communicate with the Radiologist when Imaging the DIEP Flap Reconstructed Breast A Guest blog from Danielle Carroll, MD To image or not to image the reconstructed breast- that is the question…Well, actually the first question.  I am not going to tackle that topic here, but Dr. Chrysopoulo discusses this in his article “Mammograms and MRI after Reconstruction- Are They Needed?” .  However, if you decide to proceed with imaging follow-up, what is important for you to know about imaging the reconstructed breast, and how can you best convey your reconstruction status to the reading radiologist?   The reconstructed breast will undergo many changes over the first several years post reconstruction, some of which will be visible externally, some may only be seen by imaging.  The two most important pieces of information to convey to the scheduler and/or technologist are 1.  Your history of mastectomy with soft tissue reconstruction Continue Reading →

Genetic Testing ~ A Tough Decision

Genetic Testing ~ A Tough Decision A recent article I read, Beyond BRCA: Testing negative and living in the “gray zone” for cancer risk, motivated me to write a personal response.  This is the story of my own genetic testing that for me was a tough decision. The article was about a fellow Twitter advocate in the breast cancer community, Stacey Tinianov. We have a bit in common as you can see by the list. Both love coffee and tweeting. You can find Stacey on Twitter @coffeemommy and me @6state Both maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle Both gave birth to our children before the age of 30 Both had two children and nursed them Both love the “blueberry diet”… AKA…”a lifetime of following the myriad of published “cancer prevention” techniques Both diagnosed with breast cancer in our 40’s (me> a 2nd diagnosis in my 50’s) Chemotherapy – Shared Continue Reading →

Delayed DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

Delayed DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction ~ My Story Delayed DIEP flap breast reconstruction, my story, my experience, will hopefully give others considering this method some insight into your planning. In a perfect world immediate reconstruction, that is, reconstruction done at the same time as the mastectomy, results in the best possible aesthetic outcomes for a number of reasons.  But, we all know that breast cancer is not a perfect world. There are reasons that patients have delayed reconstruction: Adjuvant therapy Adjuvant therapy may be necessary after a mastectomy. If there are lymph nodes that have tested positive for cancer and chemotherapy or radiation is recommended, this could delay your reconstruction. My story: No lymph nodes tested positive and radiation was not deemed necessary. However, because of the type of cancer I had, left breast recurrence from twelve years previously and a new cancer in my right breast, I was encouraged Continue Reading →