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 →

Products for Women after Mastectomy & DIEP Flap

Products for Women after Mastectomy & DIEP Flap I frequently find out about new products through social media connections. A sports bra was introduced to me by a DiepCjourney member, Kimberly Jewett. We chatted at length on the phone about the Empower Bra from Athleta. Connections with other athletic women is real feeling of empowerment, especially in the breast cancer and breast reconstruction community. Feeling fit is an on-going goal for many strong women. It becomes even more of a priority after the assault of a breast cancer diagnosis and the aftermath of treatment and surgeries. I learned about Athleta through a mutual friend and board-certified microsurgeon, Dr. Fawn Hogan. Fawn is the epitome of fitness and I frequently refer to her as my #swolemate. Fawn told me about how much she uses the Athleta brand in her workouts. I ordered a pair of Athleta pants and they are now 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 →

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 →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Recovery Fat grafting after breast reconstruction recovery is a much quicker process especially if you have had DIEP flap surgery.  Phase one is typically a six week recovery.  The fat grafting surgery is typically day surgery and you will be back home or back at your lodging that evening if you have traveled for the procedure. I addressed the side effects of anesthesia here.  Another post written about post surgical garments after fat grafting can be read here.  I wanted to outline some common side effects of the fat grafting procedure and what you can expect in this blog. Fatigue during Recovery When you wake up from surgery you will be shaking off the anesthesia and will feel fatigued for a period of roughly a week.  This will depend on each individual and the extent of the surgery.  We each bounce back at different rates and Continue Reading →

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Garments Fat grafting breast reconstruction garments will vary depending on your particular procedure and where the fat is taken from to be injected back into your breasts.  The practice of using compression garments also varies among plastic surgeons. Fat grafting is done to achieve symmetry after implants are placed or autologous flap surgery is done.  There are often areas that have a look of indentation or a divot after phase one of DIEP flap or after implants are placed for breast reconstruction.  These are the areas that benefit from fat grafting. It was my experience that a fuller, smoother and more uniform look to my breasts was achieved from both of my fat grafting procedures.   The appearance of your breasts when you wake up from surgery will be slightly different after six months due to a couple of factors; you are swollen after surgery and some Continue Reading →

DIEP flap surgery: Packing for your Hospital Stay

DIEP flap surgery: Packing for your Hospital Stay Here is a simple list of what to pack for your hospital stay for DIEP flap surgery: First and foremost: ID, insurance card, glasses and holder or contacts and case, and any medications your physician would like you to take in hospital. This might include the ever important stool softeners, daily meds you normally take and/or your pain meds if they were ordered ahead of your surgery to take with you. Pillow ~ I brought a very soft & squishy micro bead pillow with a removable/washable cover.  This is not the exact one I had but a suggestion of something similar. Why? You will be lying on your back and I like having a pillow up next to my face to “mimic” side sleeping. It was cozy and there were times when the nurses told me it looked so comfy they were Continue Reading →

Traveling with Prosthesis

Traveling with Prosthesis Traveling with prosthesis of any kind through TSA offers preparation and concerns. I promised a follow-up blog after my post entitled, My Boobs in a Box. There is both a light-hearted side to this story and one that still raises the hairs on my neck when I recall the details of a particular day at the airport. Let’s start with the funny stuff. Altitude and Silicone Inserts for Breast Prosthesis I was told when I picked up my breast prosthesis that the silicone implants I chose could potentially exhibit some odd behaviors when I was at altitude on a flight. I experienced those odd altitude behaviors in my prosthesis twice; once on a flight and the other time when I was visiting the Grand Canyon over an extended weekend. The first time I flew with my prosthetic bra I felt the effects of the altitude after we Continue Reading →

My Boobs in a Box

My Boobs in a Box My Boobs in a Box, also known as my breast prosthesis, were something that I wore for seven months after my double mastectomy. I’ll admit that I didn’t like them so perhaps that accounts for my snarky description. They were hot and heavy during the summer months I had to wear them. My breast surgeon wrote a prescription for the prosthesis and I was fitted for them within a few weeks after having my mastectomy. I’ll admit that was a strange day for me. I went to a prosthetic shop where they fit patients for a variety of prosthesis for a variety of reasons. There were amputees without arms or legs in the waiting area. Then there was me; the hidden amputee. No one could see the body parts I was missing or why I was there to be fitted for a prosthetic bra. I Continue Reading →

Flying Home After DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Flying Home After DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery   Flying home after DIEP flap  breast reconstruction surgery has the potential of both an emotional and physical impact on the patient. It was both for me and I’d like to share my experience with you. It goes without saying, and as I explained in another travel post, be sure to plan on securing a wheelchair to get you to the gate. It was invaluable for me for two reasons. I didn’t have to worry about walking fast to my next connection and it eliminated excess swelling and pain from walking long distances at the airport. It gets you through TSA much faster, too! Physical Impact of Flying Home Weight Restrictions I highly recommend you have a travel partner for phase one of DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery. I did and they can do the heavier lifting for you. You will be Continue Reading →