Christmas Week: A New Breast Cancer Connection

Christmas Week: A New Breast Cancer Connection I was privileged, during this week prior to Christmas, to make a new breast cancer connection. Coincidentally enough, I learned about Nadia through another breast cancer friend and colleague, Barbara Jacoby. Barbara posted an article on social media about Nadia’s generous work with breast cancer patients through her love of photography. I read that Nadia was right here in my own back yard. I reached out to her for a meeting. As is the case with many breast cancer survivors I speak with, the conversation began with an immediate hug and a feeling of connection. We both encourage moving beyond a breast cancer treatment in our own communities through our separate nonprofit foundations, and The purpose of our separate yet similar Foundations seem to collide with the same message: We encourage women and men to move beyond the diagnosis and feel Continue Reading →

The Gripping Fear of PTSD after Breast Cancer

The Gripping Fear of PTSD after Breast Cancer This blog is long overdue. I like to write when I’m clear headed and have done research on the topic I am writing about. Not today. Today, on my 62nd birthday, after surviving breast cancer twice, I am once again experiencing the gripping fear of PTSD after breast cancer. Today is emotional while I wait on test results, but I couldn’t feel more determined to finally share why PTSD feels like a choke hold around my throat. It happens when I go for routine tumor markers. I did that today and I wait for the results with fear; fear so many breast cancer patients experience. The wait, the PTSD, it all comes with the heavy burden of hearing you have breast cancer. Our Responsibility as Patient Advocates I spoke to a friend and colleague yesterday, a fellow patient advocate, about our responsibility Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Did I make the right choice?

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Did I make the right choice? YES! I did make the right choice having DIEP flap breast reconstruction! Each December marks another year and anniversary of my DIEP flap surgery. I remember so much about the dark, cool, morning we left for the hospital. I was calm, prepared, and ready December 1, 2014. The time between my double mastectomy in mid-May of 2014 and my breast reconstruction were some of the most trying days of my life. In 2002, after my first breast cancer diagnosis, I had been through 2 surgeries, eighteen weeks of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of daily radiation. This was physically demanding because I was so sick and felt so weak. Fast forward twelve years to 2014. Waiting for my breast reconstruction was psychologically trying. Each month that passed after my double mastectomy only decreased my self-image as a woman due to Continue Reading →

Reflections of Gratitude from DiepCFoundation

Reflections of Gratitude from DiepCFoundation November and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday have given me time to stop and reflect the true feelings of gratitude and this honor given to DiepCFoundation. “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery”, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, published a special forward to their November 2017 supplement issue on “Advances in Breast Reconstruction.” The Journal contacted me prior to publication to let me know Dr. Rod Rohrich would be quoting me in the introduction to this supplement. September was an extremely busy month planning for upcoming conferences, fundraisers, and my own Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. Although, excited, I must admit I didn’t take time to appreciate the true impact of the honor.   I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to the Journal, Dr. Rohrich, the Journal editorial staff, and the many board certified plastic surgeons who tirelessly work to find Continue Reading →

Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery?

Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery? I ask myself this question often: Why do I marvel at breast reconstruction & plastic surgery? October was a busy month for many who work in this field and educate about this topic. I think it was one of the busiest months I had this year. I was in six states and six different airports engaging with or educating about breast reconstruction with plastic surgeons, patients, advocates, and the public. I was exhausted yet exhilarated to know the innovations and developments in the field of breast reconstruction and plastic surgery continue to keep me motivated and captivated. It has been three years since my own breast reconstruction and yet, thinking back to November of 2014 and having no breasts on my body, it is easy to understand my own fascination with this topic. When you use your own tissue to Continue Reading →

How Long Does DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take?

How Long Does DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction Surgery Take? This is a question I wanted to write about after attending PSTM17 in Orlando as a patient advocate. Speaking to ASPS board certified plastic surgeons at the meeting afforded me the opportunity to understand the answer to, how long does a DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery take? It is an intricate, microsurgical procedure that includes incisions and work on both the abdominal area and the breast area. The assumption is, the surgery is long. In fact, when assessing my own DIEP flap, I often report my DIEP flap lasted nine hours. What we don’t often take into consideration is what the surgery entails from start to finish. I reviewed my own surgical report to write this blog. I also spoke with plastic surgeons at PSTM17 and wanted to share some important points of discussion. I gathered information from my sister, a nurse, Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Education: Boobs in the Bathroom

DIEP flap Education: Boobs in the Bathroom DIEP flap education and boobs in the bathroom?  Really? Yes! Really! When a woman has had breast reconstruction, especially when you are using your own tissue, it can be of great benefit to show other women “the goods” when they are contemplating the same surgery. The mere visual may seem a bit comical but let me share with you what I have personally experienced. There is nothing comical about hearing the words, “You have breast cancer”. It is often a mind-bending, confusing Journey for women and men to go through. We talk about it a lot on the Journey Facebook group. We have also discussed, in a half-joking manner, “Yes, I show others my boobs in the bathroom!” When your breasts have been removed after a mastectomy and then rebuilt using your own tissue, it is nothing short of miraculous to many; patient 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 →

#WorldTeacherDay: A Teacher’s Journey through DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

#WorldTeacherDay: A Teacher’s Journey through DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Today is #WorldTeacherDay. This quote is taken from one website explaining the purpose behind this day. The United Nations’ (UN) World Teachers’ Day celebrates the role teachers play in providing quality education at all levels.  This enables children and adults of all ages to learn to take part in and contribute to their local community and global society. That is why I signed up for this profession. I was certain my years in the classroom would continue after I completed my M.Ed. by mentoring new teachers into this vocation.  I wanted classrooms to be filled with passionate, well-trained educators providing quality education. A second breast cancer occurrence in 2014 changed my course a bit. I began a Journey through DIEP flap breast reconstruction. I put my education on hold after a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction seven months later. Little did Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Patient Advocate Prepares for PSTM17

DIEP flap Patient Advocate Prepares for PSTM17 I am a DIEP flap patient advocate currently doing final tweaks and changes in preparation for Plastic Surgery the Meeting, PSTM17.  Wheels will be off the ground early Thursday morning to fly out to Orlando. PSTM17 will be held at the Orange County Convention Center for a five-day event full of education sprinkled with a bit of fun around the Walt Disney World theme park. Last year at PSTM16 in Los Angeles, I walked into the LA Convention Center amazed and overwhelmed, feeling like a little girl walking into Disney World for the first time. I wondered around both wide-eyed and a bit frightened at times since that was my first medical conference. Everyone was welcoming and friendly from staff, vendors, to all the plastic surgeons I was finally able to meet after “knowing” them only through social media. The classes I attended Continue Reading →