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 →

Maintaining Health Records during a Cancer Diagnosis

Maintaining Health Records during a Cancer Diagnosis This is a post about the importance of maintaining accurate health records during a cancer diagnosis. But, today is probably one of the most difficult posts I have written in a while because of the events listed in this post that happened withing a month’s time to me and my family in 2014 during the time of my second breast cancer diagnosis. Why I do What I do I am an educator for all options of breast reconstruction after mastectomy.  After much research on my part to find a skilled, compassionate and qualified plastic surgeon; I had a very positive experience.   I know that all women are not told about their choices for reconstruction like I was.  Additionally, some have not had the powerful and positive experience that I did. I share my experience through outreach and  I educate others in hope of Continue Reading →

Postoperative DIEP flap Recovery

Postoperative DIEP flap Recovery Postoperative DIEP flap recovery, pain management, and progress with movement and activity, are some of the most common questions, concerns, and fears women ask me about. I wanted to share my photos in this blog to give women visual of progress I made during my recover from DIEP flap surgery. This was my recovery time and everyone will be different to some degree. I had very few “hiccups” in my recovery and it went as expected. The most difficult part for me was not pain, which was controlled quite well. My challenge came in lying still for five days. But as I frequently tell interested candidates, you have just been re-sculpted by an artist, your plastic surgeon. Treat your piece of art, your newly built breasts, with respect and nurture it back to health with patience and care. All good art work takes time! My First Continue Reading →

DIEP Flap Surgery: Day one, Phase one

Check-in It was still dark outside the morning we left for phase one of my DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery. We were told to be at the hospital at 6 a.m. Monday morning following Thanksgiving weekend had to be a good day for surgery. My surgeon had time to be with his family, enjoy a feast and be all rested up. It was a new week and a brand new month, December 1. We arrived at the hospital and signed all the paperwork for check in. The wait wasn’t too long but the room we waited in was the typical sterile, hospital environment, fluorescent lighting with CNN on the TV. They had coffee available but nothing for me, thank you very much. I had been on complete fasting since midnight. They took us up to another smaller and quieter waiting area where all patients were checked in and waiting to Continue Reading →

Genetic Testing

Is Genetic Testing A Scary Road to Travel? It is one of the hot topics in the medical world, “Genetic Testing”. A recent report from NBC Nightly News reports on the the risks and benefits of genetic testing.  Why do individuals choose to do it? What are the benefits and risks? What is the cost? Is it covered by insurance? Does it risk an individual’s chances of further insurance coverage in the future if they test positive? My Own Personal Experience I can only speak from my personal experience and reasons to explore genetic testing for myself. There are certain criterion that determines if you are a candidate who will likely benefit from genetic testing. I fit two of those conditions. One, I had breast cancer at a fairly young age, 47. Two, I had a recurrence of the original cancer I had at 47 but more importantly a newly Continue Reading →

Bone Density and Aromatase Inhibitors

The Devil and the Details Today was a four month visit with my oncologist after my second diagnosis of breast cancer one year ago.  One of the purposes of the visit was to discuss bone loss while on Arimidex, the Aromatase Inhibitor I will be taking for ten years, unless of course they come up with something new between now and then. I was diagnosed with both invasive and in situ lobular carcinoma (LCIS) in my left breast twelve years ago. After two lumpectomies to achieve clear margins, eighteen weeks of chemotherapy and six weeks of daily radiation I took Tamoxifen for five years. Last year I had a recurrence of LCIS in the left breast and a new and different cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), in the right breast. Because of the new cancer in the right breast and the fact I had a recurrence in the left Continue Reading →

Seeking a Second Opinion

Inspired to Write About Seeking a Second Opinion I recently joined a closed Face book page about blogging. One of the questions posed in the discussion was what so inspires you to blog/write. The main focus and inspiration for me will always be to inform others about breast reconstruction. But, leading up to breast reconstruction was twice being diagnosed with breast cancer so one greatly influences the other. The inspiration for this blog came from a question posed on a completely different Face book page. The questions were regarding getting a second opinion and what your thoughts were on it. I felt inspired to share my thoughts. Life’s Book on a Cancer Diagnosis My experience with second opinions is a lesson to be taken out my life’s book on a cancer diagnosis and all that comes with it. The first time I was diagnosed with cancer was twelve years ago Continue Reading →

Diagnosis #2

Don’t Panic I was diligent about scheduling my yearly mammograms and equally as diligent about doing my breast self-exams. I had my yearly physical in late January and neither I nor my Primary Care physician felt anything suspicious in my breasts. Then as I was lying in bed one morning doing a self exam I left a bit of a thickness in my left breast. I decided not to panic or jump to any conclusions based on two rationale. The first one being that I frequented the gym and did weight training three times a week. That was the delusional/hopeful side of me. I feel great! It’s just all that strength training and new muscles. The second and more practical side of me was that I had my mammogram scheduled in three weeks and we’ll just (fingers crossed) get it checked then. April 2 arrived and off I went for Continue Reading →