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 →

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 →

#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 →

Fears of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Fears of Breast Cancer Recurrence Fears of breast cancer recurrence are palpable for anyone who has been diagnosed with this disease we have yet to find a cure for.  Each of us handles those fears differently. I had a recurrence.  I’d like to share with you my own experience, how I faced those fears and how I dealt with them. As an educator for many years, I have seen the differences in personalities both in students and parents when it comes to handling what is seemingly the simplest of fears. What is catastrophic to one is barely a blip on the radar to another. Herein lays the explanation of how anyone handles breast cancer whether it is a first diagnosis, a second diagnosis or living with metastatic, treatable but incurable, cancer. I would never look at someone and say, “Pull up your big girl pants and get on with it!” Continue Reading →


#FlashbackFriday and A Chance Encounter I wanted to share a chance encounter that I had yesterday and post it for #FlashbackFriday. While I was busy doing what I’ve been calling my “boots on the ground” work to promote Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day 2015, I had a fortuitous circumstance, an encounter of compassion. Tweeting in the Stairwell My Twitter account was full of activity yesterday thanks to some overwhelming support from Social Media friends and supporters. I was at the imaging center to hand out flyers for my Breast Reconstruction Awareness event. It seemed like a logical place to drop off promotional material for women getting mammograms and screenings. I took the stairwell trying to be inconspicuous and out of the way of the patients. OK, so I was also admittedly latching on to the imaging center’s WI-Fi so I could check the craziness of my Tweets coming in. It was Continue Reading →

Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy

  Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomy ~ Is it Right for You? When I read an article about BPM posted on Facebook by my reconstruction surgeon I knew immediately what the letters stood for and so do those in the BRCA and cancer community. Out of pure curiosity I searched on the internet the “meaning of BPM” without adding “medical” to the search. You get some interesting as well as hilarious results: British Prime Minister, Beam Position Monitor, Business Performance Management, Blood Pressure Monitor, Beats per Minute and my favorite, Butt Pumping Music! The Angelina Effect Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy became a popular news topic after Angelina Jolie shared that she reduced her risk by nearly 90% of ever getting breast cancer because of choosing a BPM. She tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation and her mother died of ovarian cancer. I wrote a previous blog on this and completely understand why 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 →

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 →

Ta Ta for Now ~ The Double Mastectomy

Ta Ta for now ~ The days leading up to my mastectomy were a real mix of emotions. Our youngest son was still living with us at the time and finishing up a second degree. We welcomed him home after teaching English overseas for a year and we were quite happy he decided to be frugal and “room with the P’s” while paying for and completing his second degree. Our oldest son came down from Seattle to be here for Mother’s Day prior to my surgery “just because”. He arrived on May 6th, returned home to his lovely wife on the 13th only to return on the 19th to be here for my recovery after surgery. The 19th was his birthday. Who is lucky enough to have sons so great? Me!!   It was a fantastic week before the mastectomy sharing time with the family. Being surrounded by my husband and Continue Reading →