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 →

New Game Changer App for Anyone Impacted by Breast Cancer

New Game Changer App for Anyone Impacted by Breast Cancer I am a breast cancer survivor.  I have had breast cancer twice.  I had two lumpectomies my first diagnosis.  I relied on the visits to my oncologist and breast surgeon to inform me of my options and what the treatment, side effects, and recovery would be like that included chemotherapy and radiation.  That was in 2002.  My second diagnosis in 2014 resulted in double mastectomy.  I wore prosthesis for seven months before I decided on DIEP flap breast reconstruction. Many patients complain that their surgeons essentially just old them what their treatment would involve without much discussion.  What if someone said you can be actively involved in deciding your breast cancer treatment plan?  Many of us use a variety of apps on our mobile devices and computers every day. Those apps serve many different purposes to suit our individual needs. Continue Reading →

From Nipple Sparring Mastectomy to DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction

From Nipple Sparring Mastectomy to DIEP flap Breast Reconstruction A nipple sparring mastectomy to DIEP flap breast reconstruction can be a very successful surgical process after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I want to share my success story and reference articles that I have been reading about nipple sparring mastectomy (NSM). My NSM Experience: Breast Surgeon I credit my breast surgeon, Dr. Michele Boyce Ley, and my plastic surgeon, Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo, for the success of my nipple sparring mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction. My NSM process began in my breast surgeon’s office the day we consulted about next steps after my second breast cancer diagnosis. She was very hopeful but realistic about saving my nipples while performing my double mastectomy knowing I had in mind that I wanted DIEP flap later. The MRI scan ordered prior to my mastectomy led her to make this pre-surgical assessment due to Continue Reading →

This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections

This is What Happens through DIEP flap Connections Education about breast reconstruction options after breast cancer and mastectomy: This is what happens through DIEP flap connections. Two women living in two different parts of the country, one surgeon, a plastic surgery team, and a desire by all to educate and inform! I traveled to have my DIEP flap breast reconstruction in December of 2014 at PRMA in San Antonio, Texas. I was connected to another woman, Rhonda, now a “breast friend”, through PRMA when she became interested in DIEP flap. I was part of the Pink Ladies Support Group at PRMA.  This group speaks to other women about their own experience and traveling to have DIEP flap. Rhonda, like me, was interested in booking her surgery with Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo. I received the following email the morning of January 25, 2016. Hey gals!  Dr. C has an out of state Continue Reading →

The Importance of Shared Decision Making: Breast Reconstruction

The Importance of Shared Decision Making: Breast Reconstruction What is the importance of shared decision making in breast reconstruction? A recent study published on the JAMA Network site stated this in the Conclusions and Relevance portion of the article: Shared decision making is needed to support decisions about breast reconstruction. Shared decision making is a daunting, yet attainable task, for both surgeon and patient when discussing the risks associated with breast reconstruction.  The article stated: Breast reconstruction has the potential to improve a person’s body image and quality of life but has important risks. Variations in who undergoes breast reconstruction have led to questions about the quality of patient decisions. My breast reconstruction experience was successful even though met with challenges that included out of pocket costs for travel, planning and recovery, calling on family and friends to help with recovery, and subsequent surgeries for scar revision and symmetry.  It Continue Reading →

Shared Decision Making

Shared Decision Making ~ Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy March has been designated Shared Decision Making month, #SDMmonth, by a group I started following on social media, Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.  I participated recently in one of their online webinars on the topic.  I often tweet about shared decision making and in the practice of plastic surgery, and in particular breast reconstruction after mastectomy; I embrace the value of this practice. Two of the physicians that I have engaged with in the practice of shared decision making are my breast surgeon who performed my mastectomy and my micro-surgeon who performed my breast reconstruction.  They both embody the very definition of the phrase as defined here by the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. Shared decision making (SDM) is a collaborative process that allows patients and their providers to make health care decisions together, taking into account the best scientific evidence available, as well as Continue Reading →

Breast Reconstruction: Benefits vs. Cosmesis

Breast Reconstruction: Benefits vs. Cosmesis What are breast reconstruction benefits and are the benefits vs. cosmesis equal or separate? Although this question may not have been stated in these words, women considering breast reconstruction must think about this complex question. No one can come close to knowing what this decision involves except the patient themselves. Not only is it a difficult and complex process of logic but it involves a great emotional decision as well. I am speaking about breast reconstruction in very specific circumstances. Humans are faced with many unexpected events in life that catapult us to become educated about a topic we never imagined we would be learning about. A cancer diagnosis or finding that you are BRCA positive is one of those life events. Those who are considering breast reconstruction after cancer or for prophylactic reasons to greatly decrease chances of a cancer occurrence go through great Continue Reading →

Breast Cancer, Breast Reconstruction & New Challenges

Breast Cancer, Breast Reconstruction & New Challenges What new challenges have you taken on since being diagnosed with breast cancer?  What have you had to deal with after losing your breasts to cancer, or finding out that you are a BRCA gene carrier? I was inspired to write this blog based on an article seen on social media from Living Beyond Breast Cancer. I include my BRCA friends in this post because I advocate for all choices of breast reconstruction and we have all had the perspective of experiencing some difficult decisions regarding our health. Events in life, good or bad, change us. They catapult us into decisions that we likely would not have come to based on the event. Being diagnosed with cancer for the second time in 2014, facing a mastectomy and then delayed DIEP flap reconstruction later that year, reset my compass. A Side Trip on my Continue Reading →