Author Archives: Jean

The Path Report

Whatever you may know about your cancer prior to surgery, until the pathology report is in and your doctor reviews it with you, you do not know all there is to know about your breast cancer or what treatment you may need.
Tissue removed during your surgery will be sent out for a comprehensive examination by a pathologist(s).  Results of these tests will been sent to your doctor over several days to a few weeks. As each report comes in, your doctor will add it to the results of tests he or she already has in your file from any other …


Depression and Breast Cancer

Why do some women weather a diagnosis of breast cancer and treatment with a minimum amount of emotional stress and bypass the depression most often experienced by many new survivors?
Depression certainly seems to be an understandable response to facing a life-threatening illness, changes in body image, debilitating treatment, expensive treatments not totally covered by insurance and changes in one’s personal and professional life.
Ann Bettencourt, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, recently studied women who are most likely to experience distress following a diagnosis of breast and when depressive symptoms tend to occur throughout the course of their …


Breast Prostheses and Travel Security

While I have not flown since acquiring my breast prostheses two years ago, I have traveled by cruise ship and gone through a similar security system as to what is used in airports. Fortunately, I was not stopped or questioned or required to go through a more extensive body search procedure. However, other women have.
Last year, a flight attendant’s experience going through airport security made national news as she was put through an extensive search even after she explained that she was wearing a breast prosthesis.
I came across the following article about a breast prosthesis card that might be of …


Identify, Don’t Compare

I don’t remember much about my first breast cancer support group meeting 12 years ago.
What I do remember are the guidelines that one of the two meeting moderators shared,  “Identify with what is being said, don’t compare your cancers, your treatments or your outcomes. If you do, you will feel everything from doubts about you treatment to fears about your future.”
Good advice for 10 frightened women who had recently finished active treatment. For the next ten weeks, in our once weekly meeting, we were to hear that advice at least once a session.
We ranged in age from 40+ to 60 …


Good News for Women 67 + Years Diagnosed with Early Stage Disease

A large study found that women older than 67 diagnosed with either ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or stage I breast cancer were just as likely to be alive 10 years after diagnosis as women not diagnosed with breast cancer.
DCIS is a non-invasive  breast cancer. DCIS stays inside the breast milk duct, it doesn’t spread outside the milk duct into the surrounding normal breast tissue or into the lymph nodes and to other organs.
Stage I is the earliest stage of  an invasive breast cancer. In stage 1, the cancer cells are invading neighboring normal tissue but have not spread to …


Mammograms Do Catch Earlier Stage Breast Cancers

Will we ever get past the fallout and problems related to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF) revised guidelines, issued a few years ago?
You know the ones; the ones suggesting that women 40-49 discuss the risks and benefits of having annual mammograms with their doctors and then deciding whether or not to have annual screenings.
Being told that annual mammograms might not be necessary until 50 is all some women in the 40-49 year range have to hear to give themselves permission to skip out on the anxiety and discomfort of annual mammograms.
Despite this report by USPSTF, the American Cancer …


Choosing Breast Reconstruction

Choosing breast reconstruction  is a choice that not every woman is prepared to make soon after after a diagnosis of breast cancer.
Women opting to have reconstruction need to have a detailed discussion with their surgeons with regard to the risks and benefits of reconstruction. They need to understand that if they are considering reconstruction to maintain their body image that the reconstructed breast will not look exactly like their natural breast.
Women need to know that:

A reconstructed breast will not have the same sensation and feel as the breast it replaces.
Visible incision lines will always be present on the breast, whether …


Breast Reconstruction is Not a New Procedure

The physicians and other health care professionals I met during my two  breast cancers and my years as a navigator spoke of breast reconstruction as a seemingly new process for giving a woman a natural alternative to a breast prosthesis following a mastectomy.
I recently learned that breast reconstruction is a process begun over a century ago as a surgical approach to rebuilding the anatomic breast using tissue from the patient’s body and prosthetic implants. Breast reconstruction began as a means to reduce chest wall complications and deformities following a mastectomy.
Reconstruction techniques have continued to be perfected over the years and …


No Regrets

During lunch with a good friend last week, she asked if, in the past two years since my second go-round with breast cancer, did  I have any regrets about having had a bilateral mastectomy.

Regrets about choosing a bilateral mastectomy…no. I had no control over getting breast cancer the first or second time, but I did have the power to make a choice that would give me the greatest peace of mind. And that is what I did. I chose to have the breast with cancer removed and the other breast, the site of the first cancer 10 years earlier, also …


What’s In Your Makeup?

Before you apply your makeup or use that personal care item, ask yourself what you know about it. What chemicals are in what you are using on your face and how safe are they?
You are doing so much to safeguard your health as a survivor…eating well, getting regular exercise, staying current on appointments, but are you unknowingly adding chemicals to your body through  your makeup and personal care items?
According to the Environmental Work Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that uses public information to protect public health and the environment, the US government has no authority to require companies to test …