A 3-year Anniversary: Blogging About Breast Reconstruction

A 3-year Anniversary: Blogging About Breast Reconstruction I am celebrating a 3-year anniversary blogging about breast reconstruction on March 17, 2018. When Did I Begin Blogging About Breast Reconstruction? It began as a cathartic experience after having successful DIEP flap surgery in early December of 2014. While I was at home healing, the events and challenges I faced the year after a second breast cancer diagnosis began to flood my thoughts daily. I put my M.Ed. program on hold to focus on my health. I met with a friend and artist in early January, 2015. We sat down together and planned two things; the artistic backdrop and platform for my blog on WordPress and an opening date, March 17, 2015. We are both Irish and it was a good goal. We met many times afterward to hammer out details. We hit our target date and celebrated together over a pint Continue Reading →

Study of Body Mass Index post DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction: A Patient Perspective

Study of Body Mass Index post DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction: A Patient Perspective I rely on research from evidence based journals I read to understand and share the latest information about breast reconstruction and breast cancer to the community I serve. One of the journals I utilize is Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. January is a month many of us focus on health, weight loss, and losing those extra holiday pounds. As a patient advocate who has had autologous, DIEP flap breast reconstruction, I wanted to share my thoughts and perspective from a study of body mass index post DIEP flap breast reconstruction from the December 2017 issue of the Journal : The Impact of Autologous Breast Reconstruction on Body Mass Index Patterns in Breast Cancer Patients: A Propensity-Matched Analysis.  I appreciate the focus of the article. It can be read here from the final Continue Reading →

Collaboration in Educating about Breast Reconstruction

Collaboration in Educating about Breast Reconstruction My favorite word throughout my education career has always been “collaboration”. So is the case now in my role as Founder of DiepCFoundation.org. I couldn’t feel any stronger about collaboration in educating about breast reconstruction. The change leaders I have met in the past three years on my own personal quest to educate more women and men about options in breast reconstruction motivate me daily to do more, explore new avenues to educate, support them in their mission, and stand beside them collaboratively to continue this work. This week on my social media feeds I have seen an announcement by Patricia Anstett that her book, Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction, What’s Right for You, is now out on paperback on Amazon. Congratulations are in order as this was a professional labor of love for Pat. Full disclosure: Yes! I’m featured in the book and Continue Reading →

Delayed DIEP flap vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction

Delayed DIEP flap vs. Immediate Breast Reconstruction Having delayed DIEP flap breast reconstruction and waking up with breast after being a breast amputee following a mastectomy is different for those who have immediate breast reconstruction. Having breast reconstruction of any kind due to breast cancer or a gene mutation is a fierce undertaking.  The women I speak to planning and recovering from surgery go through a range of emotions from diagnosis, finding they carry a gene mutation that puts them at high risk for breast cancer and through the decision to move forward with breast reconstruction. Those Range of Emotions Vary Here is a list that I often here as I discuss and speak to those planning reconstruction: sadness in losing your original breasts fear of surgery anxiety in the aesthetic outcomes worry about the new feeling of reconstructed breasts concern about their sexuality after breast reconstruction relief knowing the 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 →

The Psycho-social and Psycho-sexual Benefits of Breast Reconstruction

The Psycho-social and Psycho-sexual Benefits of Breast Reconstruction The psycho-social and psycho-sexual benefits of breast reconstruction have been studied in a number of peer reviewed articles.  Sharing evidence based research is a key component to my advocacy work.  It is important to me that studies have been done and data has been collected from patients who have had reconstruction to assess the impact and outcome of such a complex surgery.  These studies validate the information I share. A Personal Account of the Benefits I did a lot of research before my DIEP flap reconstruction but not specifically about the psycho-social or psycho-sexual benefits.  Keeping that in mind, this blog for me, is truly a personal account of what impact my own reconstruction had on my self-image and femininity.  I am not yet comfortable dipping my toes in the water of revealing the impact on my sexual well being as it Continue Reading →

Areola Tattooing Post Breast Reconstruction

Areola Tattooing Post Breast Reconstruction Areola tattooing is usually the final phase of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. The nipple can be rebuilt using the patient’s own skin after reconstructive surgery.  This normally takes place about 3-4 months after phase 1, the transfer of the tummy tissue and blood vessels to create a warm, soft, breast mound. A 3D tattoo of the entire nipple and areola complex can also be done if a patient does not have the nipple rebuilt.   Both procedures can be done as a final step to restore the breast as close to its natural look as possible. Many plastic surgeons offer tattooing in their office but there is an alternative. You can go to a skilled and qualified tattoo artist to have these procedures done. A patient who has had the nipple rebuilt can have the areola area tattooed. Some chose not to have the nipple Continue Reading →

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 →