Waiting for Authorization for Breast Reconstruction

Waiting for Authorization for Breast Reconstruction It can take enormous patience for breast cancer patients who are waiting for authorization for their breast reconstruction procedure. I was once there. Now I am an advocate for all options of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. I interact with patients daily. Many times, their questions are a catalyst for topics to write a blog. Amplifying our voices to educate is part of patient advocacy responsibility. I recently received an email from a patient who was denied coverage for a revision phase of her reconstruction. Her plastic surgeon even wrote an appeal, but it was still denied. She reached out to me for help and suggestions about what to do. I take a deep breath when I get these emails and step out of my breast cancer survivor role and put on my patient advocate hat. I don’t want to offer false hope, but I Continue Reading →

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 →

Patient Reported Outcome Measurement in Plastic Surgery & Breast Reconstruction

Patient Reported Outcome Measurement in Plastic Surgery & Breast Reconstruction Patient Reported Outcome Measurement (P.R.O.M.s) are a way to improve plastic surgery and breast reconstruction. Dr. Roy Kim, San Francisco Plastic Surgery, points out that with the development of P.R.O.M.s in the future, the hope is that a broader audience of participants including a more diverse female group both in ethnicity and socio-economic levels, will be included. By engaging both patient advocacy groups and breast reconstruction practices, better data could evolve to be more statistically valid information and help more patients. How and Why are P.R.O.M.s done? Patients do surveys of their plastic surgery and breast reconstruction results/experience. Data is collected and saved. The data becomes statistically significant The data helps with various procedures in breast surgery, plastic surgery, and various breast reconstruction. P.R.O.M.s started with an on-line group to measure patient outcomes. Academic Centers will want to collect this data 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 →

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Did I make the right choice?

DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction: Did I make the right choice? YES! I did make the right choice having DIEP flap breast reconstruction! Each December marks another year and anniversary of my DIEP flap surgery. I remember so much about the dark, cool, morning we left for the hospital. I was calm, prepared, and ready December 1, 2014. The time between my double mastectomy in mid-May of 2014 and my breast reconstruction were some of the most trying days of my life. In 2002, after my first breast cancer diagnosis, I had been through 2 surgeries, eighteen weeks of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of daily radiation. This was physically demanding because I was so sick and felt so weak. Fast forward twelve years to 2014. Waiting for my breast reconstruction was psychologically trying. Each month that passed after my double mastectomy only decreased my self-image as a woman due to Continue Reading →

Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery?

Why do I Marvel at Breast Reconstruction & Plastic Surgery? I ask myself this question often: Why do I marvel at breast reconstruction & plastic surgery? October was a busy month for many who work in this field and educate about this topic. I think it was one of the busiest months I had this year. I was in six states and six different airports engaging with or educating about breast reconstruction with plastic surgeons, patients, advocates, and the public. I was exhausted yet exhilarated to know the innovations and developments in the field of breast reconstruction and plastic surgery continue to keep me motivated and captivated. It has been three years since my own breast reconstruction and yet, thinking back to November of 2014 and having no breasts on my body, it is easy to understand my own fascination with this topic. When you use your own tissue to Continue Reading →

DIEP flap Patient Advocate Prepares for PSTM17

DIEP flap Patient Advocate Prepares for PSTM17 I am a DIEP flap patient advocate currently doing final tweaks and changes in preparation for Plastic Surgery the Meeting, PSTM17.  Wheels will be off the ground early Thursday morning to fly out to Orlando. PSTM17 will be held at the Orange County Convention Center for a five-day event full of education sprinkled with a bit of fun around the Walt Disney World theme park. Last year at PSTM16 in Los Angeles, I walked into the LA Convention Center amazed and overwhelmed, feeling like a little girl walking into Disney World for the first time. I wondered around both wide-eyed and a bit frightened at times since that was my first medical conference. Everyone was welcoming and friendly from staff, vendors, to all the plastic surgeons I was finally able to meet after “knowing” them only through social media. The classes I attended 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 →

Two-Year Post DIEP Anniversary

Two-Year Post DIEP Anniversary Today, December 1, 2016 marks my two-year post DIEP anniversary.  Anniversaries are for remembering and celebrating.  That is what I’d like to do in this blog as I recall some of the memories etched in my mind from this day two years ago, in 2014 when my life and my breasts were rebuilt after living with a mastectomy and no breasts for seven long and difficult months.  I want to share those bright moments from that day, fun things I remember, and give hope to those who are newly diagnosed or have their breast reconstruction date on the calendar soon. Good-bye Boobs in a Box! I remember looking at my prosthesis the morning I got up to prepare for surgery.  I bid them a formal and fond farewell as I placed them in the box for the last time.  I traveled with that box more than 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 →