Benefits of Exercise after Breast Cancer

Benefits of Exercise after Breast Cancer It is #WorkoutWednesday and I’d like to share a comprehensive video from John’s Hopkins Medicine on the benefits of exercise after Breast Cancer. Take ten minutes out of your day to view it and then I encourage you to move at your pace and ability to improve your health.   Cancer diagnosis, treatments, surgery as well as breast reconstruction surgery take a lot out of our bodies. We may have gone into either of these situations being very healthy. I often hear this from other women. This is definitely to your benefit and will help with recovery. However, after treatments and surgery you are then left to pick up the pieces from the assault on your body. Where do you move forward from there? Whether you are walking, running, dancing, doing Pilates, yoga or another form of movement, know that you are providing great Continue Reading →

Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2015

The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2015:  Re-introduced May 5, 2015. As stated on the Congress.Gov website: Amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to provide for the planning and implementation of an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients anticipating surgery about the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses, and other options, with a focus on informing patients who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups. To the Members of the 114th Congress of the United States: Close to 12% of women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. 2015 alone will bring an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer. According to statistics from Breast cancer.org 60,290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed. Surprisingly, and a little known fact, there will be approximately 2,350 new cases of invasive breast Continue Reading →

DIEPflap Breast Reconstruction: Aesthetic Questions to Ask Your Plastic Surgeon

DIEPflap Breast Reconstruction: Aesthetic Questions to Ask Your Plastic Surgeon DIEPflap breast reconstruction & aesthetic questions to ask your plastic surgeon involves more than  you may or may not have given much thought to.  You have had a mastectomy due to breast cancer. You have tested positive for the BRCA gene and are facing the decision to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy to significantly decrease your chances of getting breast cancer. Perhaps you are even going in for a consult to repair damage done at another practice and are looking for better results.  Now you’re researching and thinking about breast reconstruction options. You found a board certified plastic surgeon with great skill and a high rate of success. The consult appointment has been set up. You write down as many questions as you can and hope beyond hope that you will be given the time to have all of them 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 →

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 →

A Letter to Secretary Sylvia Burwell

Dear Secretary Burwell, I enjoyed reading your bio on the HHS.gov website because I found we have a few things in common and I value human connections. We are both passionate about ensuring that individuals lead healthy and productive lives. Your outreach is far greater than mine and I am grateful for your passion and mission. My outreach, smaller though no less important, is to breast cancer patients who have been faced with a mastectomy. We are both former Seattle residents. As former President of the Global Development Program for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation you focused your efforts again on health.  I was an educator in Seattle at Sacred Heart School in Bellevue and had a brief opportunity to meet Melinda Gates when she visited our school and came into my classroom.  I was struck by her unpretentious manner and was humbled to speak to her and meet Continue Reading →

Breast Cancer Education Act

A Time to Educate I have spoken to many women in the past six months since I became an advocate for breast reconstruction.  I am frequently reminded by these women that the education, resources and information is simply not being discussed at the first stages of a cancer diagnosis.  I was fortunate to have the information regarding my choices for breast reconstruction the day I was told I was going to have a double mastectomy due to a second recurrence of breast cancer.  I want every woman to be able to have that conversation with their physician.  The front line of education has to start in the health care community.  We can add outreach through support of this bill. A Call for Support I invite each of you to explore the information provided by Breast Reconstruction USA.  Write or call your local representative and ask them to reintroduce this bill Continue Reading →

How Has Breast Cancer Changed You?

How Has Breast Cancer Changed You? Cancer: Connections & Catalyst Many articles and questions are posed:   “How has breast cancer changed you?” Here is one example  from the About Health website, just one from a myriad of articles published after doing a quick search on the topic. I think it’s fair to ask that question to anyone in any phase of life. How has the news of the day changed you? How has having children changed you? How has visiting a foreign country changed you? How has being married changed you? How has being divorced changed you? How has changing your hair color changed you? How has losing weight changed you? How has becoming a vegan changed you? Blah, blah, blah and on and on…… Individuals and Change Individuals are affected by events in life in either very positive ways or extremely negative ways.  So OK!! We’re all individuals Continue Reading →

National Dance Day

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National Dance Day

The last Saturday in July is observed as National Dance Day .  It has been set aside as the day honoring the benefits of dance to everyone.

Dancing is not only the performance of art but also the way to show people personalities as well as to help people raise their mood and improve their health.

Dancing is an integral part of my life. When I was growing up my parents would frequently put their favorite vinyl records on the turn table and along with my two sisters we would dance to favorite show tunes and legendary crooners like Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and others.

The Wedding Dances

2014-10-28 21.10.29When our oldest son was married, I was polite and enjoyed mingling and meeting all the guests at the wedding until…. The music started. Then I never left the dance floor and danced with anyone who was next to me. It wasn’t much different at the weddings for my godson and nieces.  In fact, the song I chose in the YouTube video below is the song that my niece and I have long dubbed, “our song”, 2013-08-03 17.18.56because when it comes on, I look at her and together we sing, “I love you, I love you, I love you!”  She played it at her wedding and the two of us went out to the dance floor and rocked out together.

Carpe Diem and the Power of Music

I believe in the power of music, dance, and celebrating a moment, Carpe Diem, when the opportunity arises. Perhaps it’s being a two time cancer survivor. Perhaps it’s my upbringing and enjoying music and dance since I was a little girl. I’d like to think my Irish heritage has something to do with it. Van Morrison said once that the mark of a good song is “anything that makes your arse shake”.

Fun-day Friday Dance

It only seemed appropriate then to celebrate the final phase of my breast reconstruction with a dance. Here is what took place that Fun-day Friday just minutes before my breast reconstruction surgery.  I don’t know who is lucky enough to have a micro-surgeon with such compassion and such a great sense of humor to embrace and honor my request to do this.  It was not an easy task and I’m not suggesting anyone do the same thing.  There is an element of safety that we had to work around.  I truly thought I’d be up dancing with the team but due to safety concerns, understandably, I had to remain on the surgical bed.  Just watch my feet as I can hardly stand it that I’m not on the floor with them doing the “sprinkler” or shaking my booty with them.  Thanks to the great surgical team, too, for joining in.  You are all the best!  I do think it elevated all of our moods that morning and certainly brought out each individual personality.  Enjoy, and if the music so moves you…. Get up and dance!

Happy National Dance Day!

 

 

Breast Reconstruction Fears After Mastectomy

Breast Reconstruction Fears After Mastectomy Breast reconstruction fears after a mastectomy and not knowing all of the steps involved prevent many women from making the decision to move forward with reconstruction.  My breast reconstruction journey began when I had my annual mammogram on April 2, 2014.  My radiologist informed me that the mass she found in my right breast was highly suspicious of cancer.  I had to return to her office the next day to confirm that with a core needle biopsy (CNB). The results were ready five days later. My radiologist asked me the day she took the CNB if I knew of any breast surgeons since that is who would be reviewing the results of the biopsy with me. I had been to see one about five years previously to have a benign cyst removed close to my areola. I was very impressed with the surgeon so asked Continue Reading →