Talking to My Tatas is on Sale!

Great news! My publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, is having an INDIE-spensable Sale, with 35% off the price of select books including Talking to My Tatas: All You Need to Know from a Breast Cancer Researcher and Survivor. The book must be purchased through the Rowman & Littlefield website to get the sale price.

Use the promo code 22JOYSALE at checkout to get the sale price now through January 6, 2023!

This is a great deal, as you’ll save over $12 on the Hardback and almost $12 on the eBook. Know someone who is going through breast cancer? This would be a helpful gift. Know someone who’s a science loving nerd? They’ll probably like it, too!

Knowledge is power, and humor is healing.

Grab a copy while the sale lasts!

Interview with Fox 13 Tampa for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

It’s day 26 of National Breast Cancer Awareness month! Today, I had the opportunity to appear on the Tampa Reads segment of Fox 13 in Tampa with anchor Linda Hurtado! I was able to share my breast cancer story with a bit about science, about my personal story, and a bit about Talking to My Tatas.

It was a great experience and I hope I convinced some viewers to schedule their mammograms! Shout out to Linda Hurtado, Lisa Emerson, and the rest of Fox 13 News Team!

Post-surgery Check In

It’s day 13 of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Today, I’m taking a break from the usual programming to talk about my breast reconstruction journey, which I hope is (finally) over. I had the misconception that breast reconstruction was relatively simple, one or two procedures and done!

Image Source Here. Also has information about different types of reconstruction!

Yeah, that was before I got breast cancer. Oncoplastic reconstruction (lumpectomy followed by reduction and lift) was a one and done, as is (or can be) aesthetic flat closure (going flat). But building new breast(s) after mastectomy is complex and involves multiple surgeries/procedures to achieve symmetry and an aesthetically pleasing result. That’s where I’m at in the process.

I talk about this in Talking to My Tatas, and include pictures of where I was in the process as of 2021, but it might be useful to include a timeline and description of the various procedures I’ve had. Everyone’s reconstruction process is unique and tailored, but it should give you an idea of how involved the process can be and often is for people who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer.

June 2018 – Tumor removal from left breast by lumpectomy and oncoplastic reconstruction

September 2018 – Radiation therapy on left breast

February 2020 – Diagnosed with residual disease in the left breast (at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic)

May 2020 – Unilateral mastectomy to remove left breast and to implant expander

(Involved several intervening procedures like 3X saline fills for expander and physical therapy to regain mobility after mastectomy, which was compounded by radiation damage to the skin over my left breast and breast tissue)

November 2020 – DUG flap reconstruction (grafting of thigh and muscle/skin tissue from right thigh to build foundation of left breast plus mastopexy (reduction and lift) on right breast

(Required lots of at home massage therapy on irradiated tissue to soften it)

February 2021 – Liposuction and fat grafting into left breast + more tweaking on the right breast

(Required lots of at home massage therapy on irradiated tissue to soften it)

July 2021 – Liposuction and fat grafting into left breast

(Required lots of at home massage therapy on irradiated tissue to soften it)

December 2021 – Liposuction and fat grafting into left breast and scar revision on right breast

(Required lots of at home massage therapy on irradiated tissue to soften it)

October 2022 – Liposuction and fat grafting into left breast and minor scar revision on right breast

Image Source Here. Also has information on thigh flap reconstruction procedures.

That’s seven procedures, not counting biopsies and a lumpectomy from 2016 to remove a benign papilloma, in two years since residual disease detection. It’s a LOT! I count myself lucky to have a brilliant surgeon who has worked with me at my pace to get symmetry between a mostly natural right breast and reconstructed left breast, which is no easy task. And I have a great support system. But it’s a LOT. Each surgery involves recovery from anesthesia, incisions, bruises a plenty (lipo is brutal) and the mental and emotional impacts (which included depression and hypervigilance that made me feral). That required therapy, another part of the process.

Is it worth it? For me, the answer is yes. I’m almost back together and beyond amazed and pleased with how I look and feel. I am whole. Not the same, never the same, but whole. It’s a process. Remember that when you’re checking in with your survivor friends who may be waiting for follow-up procedures, tattoos or surgical nipple-building procedures, trimming of excess skin around incision areas, etc. It’s a process. Be kind. If you’re a survivor in the thick of reconstruction, remember to be kind to yourself and that YOU ARE WORTH IT!

(Hopefully) Wrapping Up My Breast Reconstruction Journey

Photo Source Here.

It’s the fourth day of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2022!  Today, I’m undergoing my eighth breast surgery, seventh in a series of procedures related to cancer. In May of 2020 I had a single mastectomy to remove my left breast after we found residual cancer. In November of 2020, I began the process of reconstruction starting with a Diagonal Upper Gracilis (DUG) Flap procedure in which my surgeon removed tissue from my right thigh and grafted it to my chest, forming the foundation of a new breast, along with a reduction and lift of my right breast to start the process of making my boobs symmetrical.

It’s been a long, involved, two year process.

Part of the challenge is symmetry. Since I chose to keep my right breast, it’s harder to build a new breast with the same general size and shape. As one of the surgical residents once told me, they’re twins, but they’re going to be fraternal, not identical. I can live with that, especially since I can still feel and enjoy my right breast.

I got this awesome meme here!

The quest for volume and symmetry has involved a series of fat grafts, transferring fat from my flank, left thigh, hips, and my back on this next round to my left breast. It’s working! Each time we get a little closer to a matching pair that look pretty freakin’ good. Yes, I have scars and always will, and yeah, my nipples point in different directions, but after the last procedure, I was comfortable in a T-shirt for the first time in since my mastectomy.

I’ll take it.

I’m going into this with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Once again, I’ll be going under anesthesia and under the cannula if not the knife. I’ll be putting my body through the ringer again, going through the process of healing from wounds and bruises, both internal and external, as well as whatever psychological reaction I experience post-surgery. Bandages and binders, aches from having an IV needle jammed into my left hand as I cry silent tears and kick myself for doing this. I owe my body a big apology. I question my decision and wonder if its worth it.

Then, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I’m still here, surviving and thriving. Cancer took a lot out of me, but I won’t let it steal my joy or rob me of my resolve to get my body put back together in a way that works for me. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.

So, wish me luck, and I’ll see y’all on the other side!