Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery

Honoring my Father During my DIEPflap Surgery This is a perfect weekend to write a tribute honoring my Father and his support during my DIEPflap surgery.  My father is in his late 80’s now so watching me go through DIEPflap breast reconstruction two and half years ago was not an easy process for him.  He knew nothing about this type of surgery.  My Dad’s generation and friends who had radical mastectomies and survived breast cancer never knew of the options to rebuild one’s breasts after they had to be removed after a breast cancer diagnosis.  It was just assumed that the loss was part of the plan and how you would continue to live your life. I gently guided Dad and Mom through the process and why I chose to have DIEPflap breast reconstruction after my second breast cancer diagnosis.  I will admit, it was tough.  His main concern for Continue Reading →

National Cancer Survivor Day 2017 Celebrating all Survivors

National Cancer Survivor Day 2017 National Cancer Survivor Day 2017 is a movement in the fight against cancer.  How, might you ask, does that fit into my wheelhouse of educating about breast reconstruction options after mastectomy?  Yes, mastectomy!  And there is your answer.  Every person I engage with on social media, each patient I talk to about planning a course of action to reconstruct their breasts, the research and education I seek to understand and share revolves around those who have had or will be having a mastectomy because of breast cancer or a high likelihood of getting it due to a BRCA gene mutation.  My engagement through my Foundation work involves those individuals who have chosen the profession of plastic surgery, oncology, radiology, and breast surgery to serve those individuals affected by breast cancer.  Most importantly, is involves the community of survivors. How did this all happen for me Continue Reading →

The Importance of Shared Decision Making: Breast Reconstruction

The Importance of Shared Decision Making: Breast Reconstruction What is the importance of shared decision making in breast reconstruction? A recent study published on the JAMA Network site stated this in the Conclusions and Relevance portion of the article: Shared decision making is needed to support decisions about breast reconstruction. Shared decision making is a daunting, yet attainable task, for both surgeon and patient when discussing the risks associated with breast reconstruction.  The article stated: Breast reconstruction has the potential to improve a person’s body image and quality of life but has important risks. Variations in who undergoes breast reconstruction have led to questions about the quality of patient decisions. My breast reconstruction experience was successful even though met with challenges that included out of pocket costs for travel, planning and recovery, calling on family and friends to help with recovery, and subsequent surgeries for scar revision and symmetry.  It 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 →

Support During DIEP Flap Surgery

Support During DIEP Flap Surgery Finding support during DIEP flap breast reconstruction is paramount to the success and recovery of your surgery.  When I speak to others who are contemplating this type of breast reconstruction one of the first questions I ask is, “Do you have a support system?”  I follow that with the statement, “You will need it for this surgery!” Support during DIEP flap can include a variety of individuals both personal and professional.  I wanted to take a retrospective look at the support women had for their DIEP flap surgery.  I posted this question in the on-line support group I administer for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. Name the three people who you found the greatest support from during your own DIEP flap breast reconstruction process. Breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, family members and friends can look at the replies from these women who have already had DIEP, who it Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Belly button

DIEP flap Belly button Did you know you’ll be getting a new belly button if you choose to have DIEP flap breast reconstruction after a mastectomy?  The study referenced in this blog uses the medical term, umbilical reconstruction, known to most of us as the belly button.  We’re approaching belly button season so I wanted to share this part of my DIEP flap surgery along with the study while having a bit of fun with this post, too! I had the privilege of meeting one of the authors of the study last year at Plastic Surgery the Meeting (#PSTM16) in Los Angeles, Dr. Samuel Lin.  He is a kind gentleman with a warm smile and easy to chat with.  It is apparent he is very dedicated to his profession.  Dr. Lin presented the paper at AAPS (American Association of Plastic Surgeons) meeting in Austin, Texas this year.  I became interested Continue Reading →

I Hope You Dance #InternationalDanceDay

I Hope You Dance #InternationalDanceDay I hope you dance on #InternationalDanceDay!  This is a story of two friends, both breast cancer survivors who are connected by one song and a passion for dance.  This story is long overdue! My friend Susan and I met as young mothers.  She had three sweet and charming daughters.  I had two amazing and delightful sons.  We spent many hours watching our youngest children play together.  Time passed and Susan and I parted ways geographically but to this day we remain close friends. I received a dreaded phone call in November of 2000 that I never expected to get.  Susan called from across the country to tell me she had breast cancer.  I began to cry on the phone.  I just wanted to be there to hug her.  I remember her words exactly.  She said, “Terri, I didn’t call to make you cry.”  That statement Continue Reading →

Quality of Life: DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

Quality of Life: DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Do you ever consider how your quality of life has changed after DIEP flap breast reconstruction?  The study from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal compares three groups of women; those who have undergone DIEP flap breast reconstruction, women who chose no reconstruction or a method other than DIEP flap, and those in the general population who did not have breast cancer or reconstruction.  The questionnaire studies long-term quality of life after DIEP flap. A statement from the study: The DIEP technique also provides better QOL than no breast reconstruction or reconstruction using other methods, according to the study by Dr. Vincent Hunsinger of Georges Pompidou European Hospital, Paris, and colleagues. They write, “Our results indicate that DIEP breast reconstruction allows patients with breast cancer to maintain a good QOL in the long-term.” The definition of quality from the English Oxford Living dictionary: Continue Reading →

Finding a Breast Reconstruction Plastic Surgeon

Finding a Breast Reconstruction Plastic Surgeon How did you find your plastic surgeon?  This poll question was posted recently on the closed, private Facebook page supporting breast reconstruction patients.  These were the three response questions to choose from. Recommendation from another physician, if so, which one in comments please. Oncologist, breast surgeon, primary care or other? 64 respondents Online research? 20 respondents Recommendation from a friend? 17 respondents Question 1: Recommendation from another physician. Of the 64 respondents, not all listed the type of physician they received their recommendation from in the comments. Here are the results of the respondents who did comment. Breast surgeon: 37 Oncologist: 4 Primary Care 2 Other listed referrals included the following: Mammography technician Receptionist at an oncology office Nurse practitioner Breast cancer patient navigator Genetic oncologist It is interesting to note that most women got recommendations from their breast surgeons.  I was fortunate to Continue Reading →

You Come First after Breast Reconstruction

You Come First after Breast Reconstruction One of the best pieces of advice I can give to those I talk to planning their surgery, “You come first after breast reconstruction.”  It is a very difficult concept and mantra to adopt when you are so used to caring for others.  It is particularly challenging for those who go into breast reconstruction feeling healthy and fit, going about their daily routine of cooking, cleaning, carpooling, mothering, caring for others, and working a full-time job.  A sudden change in that routine is hard to wrap your mind around.  Believe me, it stops very suddenly after breast reconstruction but it IS temporary and so worth taking the time to put yourself first. We don’t realize how much bending, twisting, and lifting we do each day.  I have been on the phone with individuals answering questions about the recovery process.  While I am speaking with Continue Reading →