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 →

Reflections of Gratitude from DiepCFoundation

Reflections of Gratitude from DiepCFoundation November and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday have given me time to stop and reflect the true feelings of gratitude and this honor given to DiepCFoundation. “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery”, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, published a special forward to their November 2017 supplement issue on “Advances in Breast Reconstruction.” The Journal contacted me prior to publication to let me know Dr. Rod Rohrich would be quoting me in the introduction to this supplement. September was an extremely busy month planning for upcoming conferences, fundraisers, and my own Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. Although, excited, I must admit I didn’t take time to appreciate the true impact of the honor.   I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to the Journal, Dr. Rohrich, the Journal editorial staff, and the many board certified plastic surgeons who tirelessly work to find 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 →

Choosing Reconstructive Surgery after Breast Cancer

Choosing Reconstructive Surgery after Breast Cancer I am a two-time breast cancer survivor who chose reconstructive surgery using my own tissue after mastectomy, and I am disappointed and feel slighted by the unbalanced reporting with regard to options in breast reconstruction on CBS Sunday Morning on March 12, 2017. One segment reported by Erin Morarity, “Foregoing reconstructive surgery after breast cancer”, was of special interest to me.  Hearing the words, “you have breast cancer” is difficult enough.  When that is followed by a double mastectomy this often puts added mental anguish on the individual, woman, or man.  It did in my case. Like some of the women in the story I lost my hair during my first diagnosis due to chemotherapy.  My skin was compromised from radiation during my first diagnosis.  I lost both of my breast and lived as an amputee for seven months after my second diagnosis.  Then, Continue Reading →

Amy Black ~ Tattoo Artist

Amy Black ~ Tattoo Artist Amy Black is a talented and compassionate tattoo artist.  Her work with breast cancer and BRCA patients is nothing short of inspiring.  She owns Amy Black Tattoo.  From her website: In 2011, Amy began working in another field of tattooing known as “nipple and areola repigmentation” or “mastectomy tattooing” as a part of breast reconstruction for patients post mastectomy due to breast cancer or BRCA diagnosis. When Art Transcends Emotion There are times when art truly transcends emotion in a very positive and powerful way.  This message could not have been more apparent to me than after my conversation with her on Anti-Cancer Club.  Along with hosts Stephie and Pat we sat mesmerized by this woman’s commitment to post-mastectomy patients.  Amy is an individual who exudes the statement, “The universe is larger than I am.”  Listening to her message, hearing about her work transforming the Continue Reading →

Traveling with Prosthesis

Traveling with Prosthesis Traveling with prosthesis of any kind through TSA offers preparation and concerns. I promised a follow-up blog after my post entitled, My Boobs in a Box. There is both a light-hearted side to this story and one that still raises the hairs on my neck when I recall the details of a particular day at the airport. Let’s start with the funny stuff. Altitude and Silicone Inserts for Breast Prosthesis I was told when I picked up my breast prosthesis that the silicone implants I chose could potentially exhibit some odd behaviors when I was at altitude on a flight. I experienced those odd altitude behaviors in my prosthesis twice; once on a flight and the other time when I was visiting the Grand Canyon over an extended weekend. The first time I flew with my prosthetic bra I felt the effects of the altitude after we Continue Reading →

My Boobs in a Box

My Boobs in a Box My Boobs in a Box, also known as my breast prosthesis, were something that I wore for seven months after my double mastectomy. I’ll admit that I didn’t like them so perhaps that accounts for my snarky description. They were hot and heavy during the summer months I had to wear them. My breast surgeon wrote a prescription for the prosthesis and I was fitted for them within a few weeks after having my mastectomy. I’ll admit that was a strange day for me. I went to a prosthetic shop where they fit patients for a variety of prosthesis for a variety of reasons. There were amputees without arms or legs in the waiting area. Then there was me; the hidden amputee. No one could see the body parts I was missing or why I was there to be fitted for a prosthetic bra. I Continue Reading →

Maintaining Health Records during a Cancer Diagnosis

Maintaining Health Records during a Cancer Diagnosis This is a post about the importance of maintaining accurate health records during a cancer diagnosis. But, today is probably one of the most difficult posts I have written in a while because of the events listed in this post that happened withing a month’s time to me and my family in 2014 during the time of my second breast cancer diagnosis. Why I do What I do I am an educator for all options of breast reconstruction after mastectomy.  After much research on my part to find a skilled, compassionate and qualified plastic surgeon; I had a very positive experience.   I know that all women are not told about their choices for reconstruction like I was.  Additionally, some have not had the powerful and positive experience that I did. I share my experience through outreach and  I educate others in hope of Continue Reading →

Body Image After Mastectomy

Dealing with Body Image After a Mastectomy Body image after mastectomy is difficult for many women. I went through this myself after a bilateral double mastectomy. It is my own definition but I define women who live with mastectomies, “hidden amputees”. No one sees that you are missing body parts when you wear prosthesis. No one feels what you feel each time you see a reflection of yourself in the mirror or try to pick out something that will look feminine or sexy when you want to step out for a social event. No one truly understands the desire you have to just magically want the clock to turn back before you had to have your breasts removed due to cancer. No one, that is, unless you’ve lived with this yourself. What was your personal choice? How did a mastectomy change your body image and how have you dealt with Continue Reading →

Exercise After Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Going in DIEP! Exercise after breast reconstruction surgery is a tricky game. You must clear it with your plastic surgeon. Your incisions must be completely healed so that you do not compromise the healing process. One question I asked my PS (plastic surgeon) at my pre-op appointment before the final phase of my reconstruction was when I could get back to swimming. We have a pool in our backyard and I felt it would be good rehab as a post-surgical exercise. His answer, “When you are ready and when the wounds are all healed”. New Sensations and Healing I’ve been working up to this moment today. I emailed the nurse at my plastic surgeon’s office a couple of weeks ago and told her I was feeling some interesting and strange new sensations in my breasts. I couldn’t really put the feelings into words but I think she completely understood. She Continue Reading →