Psychological Benefits of Breast Reconstruction

Psychological Benefits of Breast Reconstruction There have been many articles written over the years regarding the psychological benefits of breast reconstruction.  When a woman or man loses a body part to breast cancer it seems reasonable to expect one would experience upset and psychological trauma no less than any other amputee.  However, the decision to remedy the amputation of the body part through breast reconstruction is not an easy process.  It means more surgery, recovery, dealing with possible side effects and complications, time off work, support from loved ones, research, and acceptance there will be lifelong scars. One of the driving factors to move forward with my own breast reconstruction after my mastectomy was to remedy the “psychological distress” I was experiencing from the loss of my breasts.  It took a full week after my mastectomy for that psychological anguish to hit home in a figurative and literal sense.  This Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits

Breast Reconstruction Travel & Post-op Visits A question was posed to me recently about breast reconstruction travel and post-op visits. The question was this: Terri – when you traveled for your DIEP, did you travel back/ forth for all the follow up visits also?  So, wondering how all the follow up visits go in a situation like this? How long did you stay in SA while recovering? It is an important question to ask. I had the same question before my own DIEP flap surgery.  DIEP flap is a very specialized breast reconstruction surgery using the patient’s own tissue.  There are few qualified micro-surgeons who perform it with a high rate of success and have amassed a great number of flap surgeries performed.  When the numbers are extrapolated, there is not even one in every state.  It makes sense, then, that to find a highly-qualified micro-surgeon, patients frequently must travel for Continue Reading →

Burns in Reconstructed Breasts after Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction

Burns in Reconstructed Breasts after Mastectomy and Breast Reconstruction An article published in Medscape.com on burns in breasts after mastectomy which also included after breast reconstruction admittedly left me riveted.  Look at this statement from the article: Together with this case series, the literature suggests the most common heat sources responsible for the identified burns included: Heat conduction: using heating pads, hot liquids, and hyperthermia devices. Solar radiation: sunbathing with a dark swimsuit or using a sun lamp. Heat convection: using hair dryers. A close examination of this article and the above-mentioned items leads me to conclude that the most common culprits are household items and sunbathing.  I was given literature regarding post-surgical care from the plastic surgeon who performed my DIEP flap breast reconstruction to clearly avoid heat of any kind to my reconstructed breast, including standing with my back to the shower as well as sunbathing. I personally Continue Reading →

Restored Breast Sensation: Breast Reconstruction

Restored Breast Sensation: Breast Reconstruction I am a patient who has restored breast sensation after breast reconstruction.  As a patient advocate who educates and speaks to hundreds of women and men about all options for breast reconstruction I am aware that many who choose breast reconstruction experience numbness and a variety of new sensations in their reconstructed breasts. I am referencing a recent article in the New York Times, After Mastectomies, An Unexpected Blow: Numb New Breasts. I respect but don’t fully understand the statements from patients experiencing numbness regarding their experience with their own reconstructed breasts.  Specifically, these: The statement under the photo taken from the article Re “Mastectomy, Then Shock: Lost Feeling” (front page, Jan. 30): Dane’e McCree with her daughters, Marleigh, left, and Brooklyn, in Grand Junction, Colo. “I can’t even feel it when my kids hug me,” Ms. McCree said after a breast reconstruction surgery. Credit Continue Reading →

Holiday Wishes on the Journey

Holiday Wishes on the Journey This is the time of year to send holiday wishes on the Journey.  If I could wrap up in boxes all the stories shared, both happy and sad, those who have been on this Journey through breast reconstruction, I don’t think there would be a space large enough to place those wrapped boxes.  We have shared struggles, triumphs, waiting for results, preparation, anticipation of surgery, celebrating completion of the reconstructive process; the list goes on. Who are we here on the Journey? We are a global community that stretches beyond cultural borders and continents.  We are women and men who have heard those dreaded words, “You have breast cancer” or “You are BRCA positive”.  Through your research, a friend, or physician you found the Journey.  You told us your personal story.  Some are still in treatment waiting to go through the reconstructive process.  Others have Continue Reading →

Recap #PSTM16

Recap #PSTM16 Plastic Surgery the Meeting may seem like a distant memory but a recap of #PSTM16 from a patient advocate standpoint summarizes the value of my first experience as an attendee.  It was a fast and furious weekend for me at the Los Angeles Convention Center since I was only able to attend Friday through Monday.  I scheduled classes to attend, met with plastic surgeons, and walked the vendor floor learning about products specific to breast reconstruction. The Educational Programs The first class I attended was one that focused on Cultural Competence in plastic surgery.  I wanted to step outside the box of breast reconstruction a bit and understand the broader world of plastic surgery.  It was a valuable instructional course.  The discussion given by a variety of plastic surgeons at this session focused on recognizing and embracing cultural diversity in the workplace among plastic surgery co-workers as well Continue Reading →

Fairness in Reporting, Breast Reconstruction

Fairness in Reporting, Breast Reconstruction An on-line article was published on October 31, 2016, in The New York Times entitled, ‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer.  This is my commentary on that article after having survived breast cancer twice and choosing to reconstruct my breasts with my own tissue.  I want you to focus on the words “reconstruct my breasts”.  They are my breasts.  Every part of my breasts are me, my own tissue, my own blood source, my own skin, my own nipples.  My own breasts that contained cancer cells have been removed through the skillful hands of a breast surgeon and rebuilt by the skillful hands of a microsurgeon. The breasts that I had before breast cancer were mine.  The breasts that I now have after breast cancer are mine.  Once my breasts had cancer.  Now, my breasts do not have cancer.  Therefore, I respectfully disagree with the last Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day BreastReconstruction Awareness Day has gone global and that’s great news for breast cancer patients!  The focus of these events is to educate and raise awareness about options for breast reconstruction after mastectomy.  Many of these events are held in the month of October in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The choice to have breast reconstruction is a very personal one.  It involves a great deal of planning and requires a lot of information to make the best possible decision for each individual patient, both female and male.  It is not for everyone but the key take away and message of the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day campaign is that everyone has the right to be given the information and to be educated about this topic. Breast Reconstruction after mastectomy is rarely a one-step surgical procedure.  Most reconstruction options require more than one stage.  What are those Continue Reading →

A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16

A Tearful Golden Moment at #PSTM16 I unexpectedly had a tearful golden moment at #PSTM16 the last evening I was there.  #PSTM16 was the first conference I have attended since opening a non-profit 501c3 Foundation to support and empower patients with education about options in breast reconstruction.  I will have many more blogs to write about my experience at the conference but this was truly a golden moment for me in more ways than one. An Evening of Celebrating Twitter Connections and Friendships It was at one of many special events that occurred at the conference.  This particular event was arranged by Dr. Karen Horton, one of the many talented plastic surgeons I engage with on Twitter and other social media venues to push out valuable information to patients interested in breast reconstruction.  The event was sponsored by Allegan and it was an absolutely lovely evening.  Allergan made it memorable Continue Reading →

Goals: #Plasticsurgery #BreastReconstruction, #PSTM16

Goals: #Plasticsurgery #BreastReconstruction, #PSTM16 Goals: #PlasticSurgery, #BreastReconstruction, #PSTM16 are what I’ve been rolling over in my mind for the past few days.  Tomorrow, September 23, 2016, bright and early as the sun rises I will board a plane to Los Angeles to the largest plastic surgery convention of the year, Plastic Surgery the Meeting 2016, #PSTM16. My goals for the meeting Attend educational events focused on the breast reconstruction aspect of plastic surgery. Explore and understand the latest practices and developments in breast reconstruction. Engage with vendors to learn about their products. Ask these vendors why their product is so important in the breast reconstruction process. Catch up on any new legislative news pertaining to #BreastReconstruction. Learn as much as I can about tips in networking and Social Media for #BreastReconstruction and #plasticsurgery. Report back to patients in blogs about what I have learned at the meeting. Meet more board Continue Reading →