The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction Gives Thanks

On behalf of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

We hope you are able to spend time this week with the ones you love, eating delicious food and reflecting on the many things you are grateful for!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve spent some time thinking about the things that we are truly grateful for. And in honor of this holiday of giving thanks, we wanted to share our list with you.

How many things do we have in common on our lists? Keep reading to find out…

#1 — The opportunity to work with so many courageous women who have battled breast cancer.

First and foremost, we are so thankful that we get to work with such amazing women each and every day. Their stories inspire us, their smiles brighten our day, and it is truly a gift to be able to interact with each and every one of the ladies we work with.

Read the stories from some amazing women here.

#2 — Our team of highly skilled staff and medical professionals.

We never take for granted the amazing staff and medical professionals that we have on our team. We are thankful that we have kind, hardworking, and highly skilled professionals that are able to give our clients the best care they deserve.

#3 — Our health.

Every day we work with women who have fought courageous battles against cancer. And every time we hear a new patient’s story, we are reminded of how lucky we are to have our health.

#4 — Our friends and family.

From loving spouses and children to awesome coworkers and friends, we are thankful to be surrounded by those who love us each day.

#5 — Our freedoms.

We are thankful for all the freedoms we have. From access to the technology and education we need to serve our patients to being able to pursue our passion to help women recover and heal from breast cancer, we are truly blessed.

#6 — Delicious food.

Last, but certainly not least, we are thankful for the delicious Thanksgiving meal we will be indulging in this week. There’s nothing better than chowing down on our Thanksgiving favorites while surrounded by the people we love.

Need some inspiration of what to bring to your Thanksgiving table this year? Here are some of our favorite holiday recipes!

This year, when you’re gathered around your Thanksgiving dinner table, we encourage you to share the things you’re grateful for with your loved ones.

Once again, Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! We hope you have a wonderful holiday!

What are you thankful for? Let us know in the comments below!

Ask the Doctor- I’m Having Pain After My Last Latissimus Flap/Implant Reconstruction. What Can I Do Now?

This week, Richard M. Kline, Jr., MD, of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your question about breast reconstruction.

Question: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and had a mastectomy on my left side followed by chemo. In 2014, my mammogram began showing tumors and I would have an ultrasound every time. This caused panic attacks and I choose to have my right breast removed because the type of cancer I had was Stage 4 Aggressive. In April 2015, I had a bilateral latissimus flat and received implants. Now I am experiencing pain across my back where I was cut and my chest gets uncomfortably tight. The site of the drainage tube is swollen and doesn’t feel good. I stopped seeing my reconstruction doctor because he did things I was not informed of. I am worried because I do not know what is going on anymore. Could you please advise me as to what might be going on or what to do?

Answer: I’m sorry you are continuing to have problems, but you are not alone.

I can’t speak about your situation specifically because I haven’t examined you, but here are some thoughts in general about patients with symptoms like yours.

There is no question that many people with implants describe symptoms such as yours. Often, there is no discernible reason why they should feel discomfort, but they do. Nonetheless, many of them feel relief when the implants are removed. This does not mean that you would or should, it is just an observation.

The latissimus flap can be done with or without dividing the nerve that makes it contract. I have known some patients with latissimus flaps done without dividing the nerve to have discomfort associated with the muscle contracting. Some have experienced relief when the nerve was subsequently divided. Obviously, I don’t know if this is your situation or not.

Sometimes people have complex, persistent pain after surgery or injury which is out of all proportion to what would be expected. This can be difficult to treat but thankfully is rare.

When evaluating a patient with symptoms like yours, we usually start with a careful history and physical evaluation. Sometimes, especially if we have concerns about implant rupture, fluid collections, infection, etc., we then get an MRI and/or CT scan Following the complete evaluation, we then decide together how to proceed.

Hope this helps at least a little. I would be happy to chat with you further by phone about your specific problem or see you in person if you can come for a visit.

Have a question about breast reconstruction or post-surgical you’d like answered from our surgical team? Just ask!

Life after Mastectomy: Prosthetic Nipples

Being diagnosed with breast cancer and facing a cancer battle can be a long, draining, and scary experience.

While women who beat cancer find themselves overjoyed and grateful, there’s still a part of having breast cancer that tends to linger—especially if they’ve had to go through a mastectomy.

While we know women feel incredibly grateful that they’ve won their battle with cancer and feel they can begin life again, it’s also very common for them to long to feel like their old selves again.

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we want all women to feel confident, radiant, and beautiful after a mastectomy, which is why we were so excited to find out about a new non-surgical solution to breast reconstruction—prosthetic nipples.

We love the product so much, we even carry demos in our office for women to try.

So, how exactly did this product come to be and how does it work?

I’m going to let breast cancer survivor and inventor Randi Johnson tell you in her own words.

Here’s her story…

After the shock of my IDC breast cancer diagnosis in 2007, I was hoping for the least invasive corrective surgery. The lump was too large for a lumpectomy, so a unilateral mastectomy was the choice I made. I had a new full-time job and didn’t want to take 6 weeks off for breast reconstruction.

The mastectomy was not very painful and I had a good recovery, but reality hit as bandages came off and I saw “my new normal” in the mirror. I’m not an especially vain person, but it was hard to feel “pretty” for my husband, even though I knew he loved me beyond the disfigurement.

I found myself wearing my prosthetic mastectomy bra to bed at night.

We happened to hear about Dr. Khouri in Miami, FL  who was doing a less invasive type of breast reconstruction surgery. There were no incisions, it was outpatient, and had a lower risk of complications. I only had to miss 3 days of work for each step (4 fat grafting sessions, for me).

Adding to the appeal, was the fact that they would take fat from tummy, thighs and anywhere else I didn’t want it and make a new breast out of it.

What’s not to love about that!

I was amazed to find that Dr. Khouri was in network for my insurance plan. There were still travel expenses etc., but somehow it all worked out.

It felt like I was growing a new breast and hardly had time to think about not having a nipple on that side, but when Dr. Khouri made an impression of my natural nipple and made up a silicone “rough draft” of a nipple for my recon side (for purpose of photos), my husband asked if he could tinker with the idea.

Dr. Khouri was very impressed with the prototype we brought back to show him a few months later. He invited us to display our Naturally Impressive nipple prosthetics as a vendor at a couple of his fat grafting conferences.

We received a great reception as well as some helpful ideas from the international breast surgeon attending.

I was part of an “MD Rounds” event at one of those Fat Graft Conferences and it was exciting to have MDs ask in disbelief (right after they heard my history). “Did you have a mastectomy?” We have heard countless similar stories from our clients about their Naturally Impressive nipples “fooling” others because they look so natural.

Now it’s become my new body image. If I have it off for a day or two, the asymmetrical image in the mirror doesn’t feel like it’s me.

We’ve been serving women through Naturally Impressive, LLC, since January 2010. As a “Mom and Pop” shop, we keep operating costs low and we also get to know many of our clients quite well. It’s an incredible joy! We love it!

No matter what option women choose regarding nipples, Naturally Impressive can be a way to “feel normal” again. For some, this is a great short-term option while waiting for tissue to settle before making a permanent choice. For others, it’s a wonderful non-surgical long-term solution.

If you or someone you care about is longing to feel normal again in the nipple department, check out our website to see the realism, variety and affordability of choices we offer.

Click here to visit the Naturally Impressive website.

You can also call Naturally Impressive, LLC, at 715-829-4488 if you have any questions.

Do you have a favorite post-mastectomy product that makes you feel confident and beautiful?

Share it with us in the comments below!

Gratitude: Why You Don’t Need to Find a Pot of Gold to Feel Lucky This Month

 During the month of March, people often think of lucky four-leaf clovers, chasing leprechauns, and finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It’s the month of luck after all!

Sure, finding a pot of treasure or stumbling upon a stash of golden horseshoes would be lucky, but the chances of that happening—unless you’re a treasure hunter–are slim to none.

That’s ok.

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we believe it’s best to create your own luck, so that every day can be a great day!

Keep reading to discover some of our favorite ways you can remind yourself just how lucky you really are and show gratitude for everything you have.

Reflect on the Good Things in Life

It’s really easy to get caught reflecting on the bad things in life…like being diagnosed with cancer, losing a loved one, or being stressed out at work.

Yet, when we take a minute and begin to reflect on the good things in life, we realize there is often more good than bad happening in our lives.

Think about how lucky you are to have loving friends and family in your life that are there to support you whenever you need them. If you don’t have a lot of close friends or family, perhaps you have a pet that is always available for a snuggle.

Do you have a home, a warm bed to sleep in, and food to eat? Sadly, there are many people in the world that don’t. We consider ourselves lucky to have those things.

Chances are you’re reading this blog post from a computer or a smartphone. Just the fact that you have access to technology is very lucky! Not to mention other luxuries like electricity, a TV to watch, the ability to call friends and family via your cell phone, etc.

You see, when you start thinking about how many good things you have in your life, you don’t need “leprechaun magic” to realize just how good you have it!

Volunteer or Help Those in Need

Sometimes the best way to realize how lucky we are is put ourselves in the same room as those who aren’t as lucky.

The best way to do this is volunteering.

Working a soup kitchen is a great way to remind ourselves how lucky we are to have food in our stomach.

Volunteering at a homeless shelter is a wonderful way to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have our own beds to sleep in.

And spending time with sick children or adults in a hospital is the best way to show us how lucky we are for our good health—regardless of the health issues you’ve faced in the past.

Volunteer for a cause that is close to your heart, and I promise you won’t need to find a pot of gold to feel rich in your blessings.

Create Your Own Luck

Good fortune is often the result of a lot of hard work.

Think about it…many millionaires who own thriving businesses started with nothing, working out of their garages. But, with hard work, they now live a very fortunate lifestyle.

If you feel as if you’ve been stuck in a rut without any good luck, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, follow your dreams, and create your own good luck for the future.

Have the tools and resources you need to start your dream business? Do it!

Need to finish your college degree to help make a comfortable life for you and your family? Hit the books!

Do you dream of traveling the world? Start saving a little money each month to make that dream a reality.

With a little hard work and planning, you’ll have the potential to do whatever you set your mind to—how lucky is that!

How do you make your own luck? Let us know in the comments below!

The Benefits of Animal Therapy

 Different animals, such as dogs, cats, or horses, all have one thing in common. They all provide humans with unconditional love and affection.

This trait makes our furry friends perfect for animal therapy. And it’s certainly no secret.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world—from people battling cancer to children who are afraid of going to the dentist—reap the benefits of animal therapy on a daily basis in order to live a happy and healthy life.

Would you or someone you know benefit from animal therapy?

Check out a few of the most common reasons people seek out the comfort of therapy animal companions.

Anxiety

If you’ve ever noticed that you feel better when you’re around your pet, you’re not the only one.

Many doctors and scientists claim that petting an animal releases “feel good” hormones into your bloodstream, which make you feel calm and relaxed. Many studies also claim that the action of petting an animal helps lower blood pressure.

These things combined help the body relax—something very important for someone who suffers from anxiety.

If you’re ever feeling anxious, and you have a pet in your home, trying spending a little time curled up on the couch with your furry buddy…it may help!

Warning: If you ever find yourself suffering from an anxiety attack and the comfort of an animal doesn’t help, contact a friend, family member, or your doctor immediately for help.

Trauma

If you or a loved one has ever experienced some sort of trauma in life, you know how hard it can be to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Healing from trauma—whether it be physical, mental, or emotional—takes time, patience, and love.

The good news…most of our fluffy friends are experts at providing unconditional love and affection. Not to mention, as long as some petting is involved, most animals are willing to lie down with their owners (or the people they are visiting) and provide support as long as it’s needed.

There’s nothing like having a loyal buddy to stick with you when the times are rough.

Depression

When people fall into a depression due to illness, life-changing events, stress, etc., it can be very lonely.

Yet, despite the loneliness, it’s not common for people who are depressed to have the desire to socialize with others. Time spent in isolation can make depression worse.

It’s an awful cycle of feeling sad and lonely—a cycle no one should have to experience.

Therapy animals are great for people who are depressed because they open up a low-pressure outlet for socialization. They provide people with a “friend” during the times they need companionship most.

Even better—because animals require exercise and time outside—they can even help people get up and moving who would otherwise be confined to their bed or couch.

An Extra Set of “Paws”

Aside from emotional support, many people use therapy animals if they have a disability or are recovering from an illness, as an extra set of “paws” around the house.

Dogs can be trained to retrieve items, call people in case of emergencies, detect if an owner is going to have a seizure, and so much more.

Cats, with their keen sense of smell, can also be trained to sniff out danger and warn their owner if a medical emergency is about to occur.

Even horses—typically miniature horses—can be trained and used as “guide services” for the blind.

It’s truly incredible what our four-legged friends are capable of.

If you or someone you love enjoys animals and is in need of emotional or physical support, ask your doctor if a therapy animal would be appropriate!

Do you have a therapy pet? Tell us about your furbaby in the comments below!

In Her Words: Moving Forward in a Post-Surgical World

 Everywhere you look, it seems there are blogs, posters, and articles that talk about how to stay positive while battling breast cancer. This is not a bad thing. It’s important for women to be encouraged and think good thoughts as they are dealing with such a serious illness.

However, when our only focus becomes positive reaffirmations and fuzzy pink boas, we forget to talk about another side of having cancer—a side that needs to be discussed.

We forget to talk about the ugly, dark, painful, uncomfortable, and scary side of having cancer.

We know, this isn’t a conversation that anyone enjoys having.

But it’s important.

Why? Because understanding the “uglier” sides of battling cancer is a part of what helps women move forward after their courageous battle.

Betsi Green, a breast cancer survivor and a patient at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, wants to help women who are in the same situation as she was by sharing her story.

She hopes her story will help breast cancer survivors find peace and comfort as they make the transition into a post-surgical world—despite the challenges and discomforts that come with recovery.

Here’s Betsi’s story in her own words…

“Cancer is ugly.  Cancer is raw.  Cancer is painful.  Cancer is more than simply losing your hair.” – Betsi Green

On the first of November, Dr. Paul Baron did a right skin sparing modified radical mastectomy with lymphatic mapping and sentinel node biopsy. In short that means Dr. Baron removed my right breast and a handful of lymph nodes.

In the operating room, Dr. James Craigie inserted an expander where my breast had been. The expander, as its name suggests, is used to expand the skin and keep the tissue viable for the reconstruction surgery.

During surgery, the expander is filled with air.  Shortly after surgery, in a follow up appointment, the expander is filled with a saline solution.  This is done in the surgeon’s office.  The syringe is inserted in the center of the expander.

Let’s talk about the expander.  It wasn’t painful. It was uncomfortable. It was very uncomfortable.

It was difficult to bend over.  I felt like I had a brick on my chest.  It was difficult to have water from the shower hit my tender skin. It was difficult to have material touching my skin.

Did I say it was uncomfortable?

The skin felt very thin and pulled, which I expected, just didn’t expect it to be as tight as it felt.  Sleeping with the expander kept me to my left side or on my back.

It wasn’t until the first week of December, I noticed something was wrong.  The bottom half of my expander had turned red.

Anytime you have a foreign object in your body, you want to keep a close eye on how it looks and/or feels.  This bright red color told me something, and it was not good.

I did not feel any different.  I had no pain.  The uncomfortableness of the expander remained. These days, I really didn’t care what my chest looked like.  However, in this case, looks mattered and I “kept an eye” on it.  I was hoping it would simply go away on its own.

It turned out my expander was infected.

I share this with you for one particular reason:  SPEAK UP!  If you are uncomfortable, go see your team. If you think something is wrong…it probably is!  There are things they can do to help the comfort level.

Don’t be shy.  You are (or should be) in control of your cancer journey as much as possible. The doctors and their staff are not mind readers.  Let them know if you need an “adjustment”.

Ask them how they can help you be more comfortable.

The cancer dance is an ongoing experience.  My dance has been ongoing since June 2016.  It will continue thru the 2017 calendar year.  One appointment, one diagnosis, one doctor, one surgery, one chemotherapy treatment, and one CT scan does not complete the experience.

There are a lot of ugly things that can happen as you recover from your battle with breast cancer. But if you know about them, and speak up, you will be able to get the help you need.

You can make a huge difference in how your own personal cancer treatments affect you.

Be confident and as comfortable as possible as you move forward thru your own individual journey. And by all means…keep moving forward.

-Betsi Green

Check out Betsi’s blog and read more about her journey here.

Do you have any words of wisdom on recovering from breast cancer? Share them below!

 

Spread Joy to Cancer Patients with Cheerful Holiday Cards

There is so much to be cheerful about during the holiday season. It’s a time where many people travel to visit loved ones, indulge in delicious food, and revel in the joy of the holiday season.

How lucky are we to be able to enjoy this time of year!

Unfortunately, there are also many people that will struggle this season due to illness or disease, like breast cancer. Many of these people will have no choice but to celebrate the holidays from the hospital.

That definitely puts a damper on all of the holiday joy and festivities.

We truly wish there was a way to bring everyone home to spend time with their loved ones during this time of year.

Sadly, there is no way we can make that possible, but we can do the next best thing…

Bring some of the holiday spirit to those who are the hospital.

Every year, thousands of people create holiday cards to share with adults and children who can’t go home for the holidays.

It may seem like a small gesture, but there is no doubt these cards bring a lot of happiness to those who receive them.

The best part is that it only takes a little bit of your time to brighten someone’s day.

So, this year, if you feel the desire to spread some cheer, we encourage you to make a few holiday cards to give to people who are in the hospital.

How to Get Involved with Sending Holiday Cards

Many hospitals conduct holiday drives during December to collect cards for their patients.

We suggest you give your local hospital a call to see if they are collecting cards. If they aren’t, they may know of other medical care facilities that are, and can get you hooked up.

Another great resource to contact would be your local community groups, like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or local charities.

These groups may already be involved with creating cards and can help you get connected.

American Cancer Society Greeting Cards

If you’re not very crafty but still want to give back, we suggest checking out the American Cancer Society greeting cards fundraiser.

Every year, the American Cancer Society sells holiday cards and the proceeds benefit cancer research.

You can purchase a variety of different cards to hand out to your family and friends this year. Or better yet, order some to hand out at your local hospital!

To check out the American Cancer Society cards and find more information, please visit their website.

American Cancer Society Greeting Cards Website

Have you ever handed out hospital holiday cards? Let us know where below!

 

Cancer Support Programs for People Battling Cancer

 

As we’re quickly approaching the end of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction want to express our gratitude for the many ways people brought awareness to breast cancer this month.

Just because National Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends soon doesn’t mean we should stop raising awareness and helping those that are currently facing cancer.

That’s why we’d like to share a few of our favorite cancer support programs.

All of these programs are designed to assist individual people and families that are battling cancer of any kind.

Thanks to the fundraisers and events that go on during this month (as well as other cancer awareness months), these organizations can provide ongoing support to those in need.

If you have cancer, or know someone who does, we encourage you to check out and share these programs.

Road To Recovery

The Road To Recovery program was created to give cancer patients access to transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

This program is made up of volunteers that generously donate their time to help those in need.

Find out more about the program here.

Reach To Recovery® Program

Finding out you have cancer can be overwhelming. Especially when you don’t have a solid network of friends and family to support you.

The Reach to Recovery® Program is made up of volunteer breast cancer survivors who give patients and/or family members an opportunity to express feelings, talk about fears and concerns, and ask questions of someone who has been there.

Find out more about the program here.

Hope Lodge

Facing cancer is hard enough without having to travel across the country for treatments. Yet, many cancer patients have to travel numerous times to get access to the treatments they need.

Each Hope Lodge location offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay during treatment in a city they have to travel to. Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for lodging allows guests to focus on getting well.

Find out more about the program here.

Cancer Support Community

Having a support system outside of your friends and family is important when battling cancer. Especially when you can find a support group of people who have had the same cancer battle you are currently going though.

The cancer support community will get you hooked up with all of the resources, contacts, and support groups you need to make sure you are supported as you battle cancer.

Find out more about the program here.

Do you have a favorite cancer support program?

Let us know in the comments below!

Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered: HBOC Week

 

We’re just over a week out from the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and we couldn’t be more excited.

All of us at The Center for Natural Breast Construction are gearing up for the many events and activities that go on to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer treatments.

One of the events we look forward to every year is HBOC Week, which is organized by Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.

This year, HBOC Week, also known as Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week, is being held September 25 through October 1, 2016. Previvor Day is September 28.

During this week, we recognize and celebrate those who have been affected by hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

This includes everyone with hereditary breast, ovarian and related cancers, women and men with BRCA mutations, people with a family history of cancer, breast and ovarian cancer survivors, and previvors, who carry a strong predisposition to cancer but have not developed the disease.

When you join in on the celebration during this week, you can make a difference. Here’s how you can help celebrate:

  • Join the “For Our Future” Campaign and honor all those with HBOC by raising $250 between now and the end of October.
  • Visit TeamFORCE and learn about how you can support fundraising efforts.
  • See if you qualify to participate in research.

Millions of people (possibly your sibling, your parent, or best friend) carry an inherited BRCA mutation or have a family history of cancer, but many don’t know about their risk.  The goal of HBOC Week is to change that.

Together we can raise awareness and support a great cause.

Discover more about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week and how you can get involved by visiting the website now.

Have you been involved in a previous HBOC Week?

Tell us what you loved about the event below!

Easy Activities to Help You Get into a Workout Routine

 

Getting into a workout routine isn’t the easiest thing to do.

And it’s even harder if you’ve been put on medical rest due to an illness or injury.

The good news, however, is that it’s easy to take baby steps to get yourself back into an exercise routine.

There are many activities you can do in your home, outdoors, or at a community gym to help you build up your stamina again.

So we’d like to share some of our favorite activities with you to get you started with a new workout routine.

Before we begin, we’d like to remind you to check with your physician before you begin a new workout program.

This is especially important if you’ve had surgery or a serious illness such as cancer.

Walking

Walking is a great activity for so many reasons.

When you walk on a regular basis it helps improve blood circulation, strengthens muscles and joints, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

The best part is that you can do it virtually anywhere.

Take a walk around your neighborhood, do a few laps around your home, or jump on a treadmill at your gym.

Start by walking small distances. As your body gets stronger and builds endurance, increase your distances.

Make walking more fun by bringing a friend along. What a great way to exercise and catch up on each other’s lives at the same time!

Swimming

Swimming is a wonderful activity and is very refreshing on a hot day. This activity is great for heart health—it’s by far one of the best cardio activities you can do besides running.

And when you swim, you are working all of your muscles and getting a full body workout.

This activity is perfect for people who are healing from injuries or those who can’t put a ton of stress on the body.

The reason… it’s one of the lowest impact exercises you can do.

Many gyms or community centers such as the YMCA have pools you can access for a small fee.

Better yet, find a friend or family member with a pool and schedule a swimming date!

Yoga

Yoga is all the rave almost everywhere. So why not give it a try?

Especially because it’s been proven to help keep you flexible, build muscle, drop blood pressure, and regulate your adrenal glands.

This activity is great because it allows you to start slow and move at your own pace. As time goes on, you’ll build endurance and progress to more advanced yoga techniques.

Many gyms and fitness centers offer yoga classes for beginners. You can also find yoga videos in stores or on YouTube to do at home.

All of these activities are fun, come with valuable health benefits, and will put you on the path to becoming a stronger and healthier individual.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a friend, and with your doctor’s permission, get going!

Whats your favorite exercise activity?

Comment below!