In 2016, I received an invitation from a fellow patient advocate to attend the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual meeting that was being held in Los Angeles. When she informed me that Terri Coutee from DiepCfoundation was going to be in attendance, I absolutely had to go. After all, I was a member of her Advisory Board but we had never met in person. But, little did I know that Terri’s introduction at that event to another one of her Advisory Board members, Dr. Minas T. Chrysopoulo, would present me with an opportunity to be a part of another group that has produced what I believe to be one of the best assets that any person who has a need to seek information about breast cancer can have.
I believe that every download and question answered for a user is something that will be eternally appreciated by and for those who are trying to do their very best in achieving the very best outcome at every stage for every breast cancer patient.Barbara Jacoby
In our initial conversation, Dr. Chrysopoulo shared that he was working on an app for those who are dealing with breast cancer on any level and asked whether I would be interested in being a part of the team that would provide input into its creation. And upon my enthusiastic agreement, I became a part of more than 20 breast cancer patient advocates and a whole team of medical specialists who provided questions and input from our experiences that we wished to have addressed by the app that covers topics and provides information from previvors to forever. And thus, the FREE Breast Advocate® App, the first app designed for shared decision-making, was born.
Facing a breast cancer diagnosis for a patient, caregiver, family member, friend, etc. is a daunting experience no matter who you are. And there is no one who will ever know, in advance, all of the factors that will influence your having the very best possible outcome at all steps of treatment, especially without an awesome doctor/patient relationship of shared decision making. And while I had limited options available to me when I was being treated, I am so grateful that such is not the case for women and men in the last decade.
As with all of the things that I continue to learn, one of the biggest one for me was about reconstruction after surgery. According to the “Quick Facts” that I found on a website devoted to breast cancer reconstruction, you might want to consider the following:
- Less than a quarter (23 percent) of women know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.
- Only 22 percent of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.
- Only 19 percent of women understand that the timing of their treatment for breast cancer and the timing of their decision to undergo reconstruction greatly impacts their options and results.
This is the reason why I have become a “Patient Advocacy Partner” with Breast Advocate® for the completed app to encourage everyone to download this all-encompassing free asset. I believe that every breast cancer patient who is considering having reconstruction after surgery should have a plastic surgeon (preferably a microsurgeon) on their team as early as possible so that all issues can be addressed. For instance, I didn’t know that when and how any chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment is administered can affect your reconstruction. And whereby, implants were the only option not so long ago, the type of reconstruction that you have to choose is now also a consideration. And I learned recently from the app, that now microsurgeons even have available to them a new advancement known as ReSensation that is performed as part of free flap reconstruction that is designed to restore sensation to the nerves that are cut when breast tissue is removed during mastectomy which leads to numbness and a loss of sensation.
This information and just about every other issue that our team of patient advocates and medical professionals could present have been addressed in the Breast Advocate® App and it is FREE for download on both android and iPhone devices. And while there are no words that I could ever find to express my gratitude to Dr. Chrysopoulo and all of the team members for their work in the creation of the app, I believe that every download and question answered for a user is something that will be eternally appreciated by and for those who are trying to do their very best in achieving the very best outcome at every stage for every breast cancer patient.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.