May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours!
~ Robert Frost
Welcome to my blog. This is my story of how I faced my risk of breast cancer, the decisions I made, the support I received and my week by week recovery from surgery. I chose to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (March 2010). For more information on my 'Medical Team' please see tab above. I also have a wonderful circle of friends who have supported me throughout. They have provided us with lots of delicious meals and desserts. Many of those recipes are included above under "Feed the Flap" recipes. "Feed the Flap" is a term I coined when trying to increase my abdominal (fat) flap to ensure that I was a good candidate for the DIEP procedure. This was not something recommended by any medical professional, it was just something that made sense to me. I think it worked!! Feel free to join me on this journey and feel free to post comments.
Select the tabs on the left side marked Week 1, Week 2, Week 3..... to go immediately to the surgical/recovery part of this blog.
MY Medical Team!
My incredible medical team was a year in the making. I'll tell you who I had and how I found them. Then I will tell you about my journey to find them.
Plastic Surgeon: Dr. Adam Tobias at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston
Dr. Tobias' Nurse: Maria, fantastic support, always available, supportive and encouraging every step of the way. They make an amazing team.
Best Nurses in the World at BIDMC: Petrya, Tamara, Danielle, Jessica and Sarah
The journey to my team began just after I was diagnosed with LCIS. I saw my first plastic surgeon who does some tissue harvesting. I was told that if I weighed 175 lbs and had had 3 babies then he would have more to work with. As it was he thought doing a latissimus dorsi flap with implant would be my best bet. This procedure would also have taken 22 hours. I freaked and moved on.
Next stop was the other plastic surgeon who does tissue expanders only. He was a sweet man. And if I had needed to stay at home for this procedure I would have gone this route for simplicity reasons. HOWEVER I learned along the way that neither of these plastic surgeons were IN-NETWORK for my insurance.
So, that moved us to our next stop, Portland. I met with a breast surgeon and loved her. Later learned that she had done the BM on one of my friends whom I have known since I was 5 years old, who absolutely loves her. I really connected; however I later met with a plastic surgeon in Portland and learned that they only do tissue expanders. For my own reasons, which I have probably explained earlier in my blog, I didn't want to deal with tissue expanders. They are tried and true, but my instinct kept pushing me toward the DIEP.
In 2008 I was referred by an oncologist, whom I didn't care for, to my first plastic surgeon in Boston. I was very happy with her; however with some more research I learned where she had gotten her training and by whom, so decided to check out that plastic surgeon. I liked them both, but again, my instinct led me to Dr. Tobias. He is honest, up front and very clear. Even when I wanted him to work miracles and give my larger breasts than my flap would support he just wouldn't do it. I just had to have time to clear my head and focus on my goal of breast cancer risk reduction not on breast enhancement surgery. His nurse, Maria, was key in connecting me with two women who have had the same surgery for LCIS. Both of these women were instrumental in getting me over the humps I was facing at the time.
Finally, in late November 2009 I met with Dr. Houlihan and loved her. In our first consult she didn't spend much time with me, but knew that I knew as much as I would ever know about LCIS, my risk factors, etc. Instead she invited my husband and daughters into the consult and talked with them. She really helped to put my 7 year old at ease with this when she said that she works on lots of mommies. This took any stress out of Jie Jie and she was able to hold on to this confidence given to her by Dr. Houlihan.
The next step was setting a date. Now I can be a procrastinator. However, my friend Rita told me that she had tickets to a Taylor Swift concert in June and that I could buy two tickets, I realized that I need to be fully recovered by then. The concert was set for June 5th, so I went home called to schedule my PBM with DIEP reconstruction. Later that week I got my date - March 15th. I was all set.
Then a few weeks before March 15th I did get a call that my date had to be changed. The new date was set for March 29th. That was a necessary bump in the road to get to recommit to my decision all over again.
So, that's my team and how I found them. They are outstanding!!!
I haven't mentioned my nurses. Exceptional in every way!!!
My TEAM - at my first follow-up appointment on 4-8-10 (surgery was on 3/29/10). Top is Dr. Adam Tobias, followed by Malika, then Maria and Jean. I have describe them in the posting on Week 2, Day 4!! They are a great team and they are MY Team!!!