There is one certainty when you are diagnosed with breast cancer and it’s that you are not alone. But sometimes it can certainly feel like you are when you have a million questions and concerns running through your mind. Maybe you’re nervous about an upcoming surgery or aren’t sure what to expect once it’s over. Fortunately, online support groups are available all day, every day, where you can post questions and concerns and get advice and feedback from other breast reconstruction patients who have walked in your shoes. Sometimes even doctors who follow or support these groups will chime in and answer questions.

After Terri Coutee underwent DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) flap surgery, she created the non-profit, DiepCFoundation, to educate women about this option as well as others. Our surgeons at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction enjoy providing support to her non-profit and encourage our patients to consider joining the Foundations Private Facebook Support Group, DiepCJourney. The Facebook group

was founded in 2015 and is what Coutee describes as ‘a place of education, inquiry, and shared information for those who have had or are considering breast reconstruction.’

For example, Susan posted a request for what she should pack for the hospital and, feeling a little scared, she wanted some tips on getting through her surgery. Terri provided a list she made for DIEP patients while Linda and Naomi shared what they thought she could leave at home.

Vivian had a question about which implants she should opt for, while Natalie took time to share her personal experiences with surgery and recovery. Members also share their own photos and videos. Denise posted a confident picture of herself in a bikini after surgery -- something she hasn’t worn in years -- and others praised how good she looked. Andrea posted a 10-second video of herself out of bed and gingerly walking through the hospital halls only two-and-a-half days after surgery. Members sent Andrea kudos for doing so well. New members join and ask for recommendations of surgeons in their area who successfully perform the breast reconstruction procedures they desire.

To join the group, simply sign in to Facebook and search for ‘DiepCJourney ~ Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy’ under groups. Click ‘join’, answer a few questions and you will be notified when you are a member. There is no obligation to post in the Facebook group. Members can post if and when they want to and respond at their leisure. . It doesn’t matter what time you sign in either. It can be the first thing in the morning or at 3 a.m. if you can’t sleep and need that extra support system. Online support groups are there when you need them.

There are guidelines and activities not permitted within the group and the admins run a “tight ship” to be sure all members adhere. Do be careful though - as with all groups on FB – there can be too much of a good thing and it can get overwhelming. Some groups may be oriented toward a different goal than just a group of nice people trying to be helpful to others on the breast reconstruction journey.

Terri Coutee@6state will be coming to The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction in Mount Pleasant SC soon for a meetup and education event – stay tuned to our FB page for more details. Use the signup form on our FB page or website to be sure you don’t miss the announcement of date, time, and how to register.