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 →

The Perfect Breast Shape and Plastic Surgery

How I got to the “Breast” Shape Ever Twitter is such a valuable tool for me. A year ago my Twitter account was full of nothing but educational websites. I returned to school to attain my M.Ed. and I used it for the sole purpose of gathering information about the latest “speak” in education. I did not tweet, like, retweet, or DM (direct message). I only lurked and learned. The lurking and learning changed in October of 2014. School ended for me to focus on my health.  My Twitter account went from education to all things breast cancer and breast reconstruction. I entered the world of plastic surgery as a breast reconstruction patient after undergoing a double mastectomy following a second breast cancer diagnosis. It was a world I was unfamiliar with and had much to learn about both on an academic and emotional level. I was now following, being 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 →

The Days Before Breast Reconstruction Surgery

The Days Before Breast Reconstruction Surgery The days before Phase 1 of DIEP flap or any breast reconstruction surgery puts most women I’ve spoken with through mental gymnastics , present company included. You have arranged for child-care if you have children at home. If you are traveling for your reconstruction surgery and your children will be traveling with you, chances are you’ve scoped out child-friendly venues that their care-taker can keep them occupied with for the week while you recover in hospital. You have packed your bags. You probably thoroughly cleaned your home knowing that will not be done, at least by you, for a bit. All of the incidentals are what keeps you busy and occupied before you leave. That’s a good thing. Mental Clearance Sale ~ Everything Must Go! Whether traveling out of town for your surgery or having it done in the same town you live in 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 →

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 →

DiepCJourney ~ One Year Anniversary

March 18 DiepCJourney ~ One Year Anniversary I can’t believe that I am celebrating the One Year Anniversary of DiepCJourney!  Here is my very first blog post from a year ago. ‘Twas a wonderful St. Paddy’s day evening with my artist, Meagan, and her family and friends. It couldn’t have been a more memorable night sharing a pint of Guinness and celebrating the launch of my website. I taught two of Meagan’s three daughters so seeing the “wee little ones” last evening was even more of a bonus for this teacher/educator. The days leading up to the launch were hectic, exhilarating, head banging and joyful all occurring at random days and at different times. My biggest concern was opening the blog with so little content. Then I went back a year in time to the day I started back to earn my M.Ed. after being away from academia for over Continue Reading →

Diagnosis #2

Don’t Panic I was diligent about scheduling my yearly mammograms and equally as diligent about doing my breast self-exams. I had my yearly physical in late January and neither I nor my Primary Care physician felt anything suspicious in my breasts. Then as I was lying in bed one morning doing a self exam I left a bit of a thickness in my left breast. I decided not to panic or jump to any conclusions based on two rationale. The first one being that I frequented the gym and did weight training three times a week. That was the delusional/hopeful side of me. I feel great! It’s just all that strength training and new muscles. The second and more practical side of me was that I had my mammogram scheduled in three weeks and we’ll just (fingers crossed) get it checked then. April 2 arrived and off I went for Continue Reading →