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Breast Cancer Stories

Health & Wellness Podcasts

Breast Cancer Stories follows Kristen Vengler, a 56 year old single empty nester in San Diego, from her diagnosis of hormone positive breast cancer through chemotherapy, double mastectomy & breast reconstruction, radiation, and whatever happens after that. This podcast is about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time. In 2020, Kristen moved from Austin to San Diego to start her life over after a life-shattering workplace trauma. A few months later she had that terrifying moment in the shower we all hope we never have. If you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer and have no idea where to turn, this podcast is here to help you through the shock of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Kristen had no breast cancer symptoms. The routine mammogram she had a few months earlier, which is the standard breast cancer screening, was completely clear. She found her tumor only because it had reached the surface of her skin. And in that moment, the entire world changed. One of the most detectable breast cancer signs is a lump in the breast or underarm, and Kristen found hers in the shower. What causes breast cancer? This is largely a mystery for most women, but Kristen had a few ideas about what might have contributed to hers. The first thing she blames is stress. Not just everyday stress, but two years before her breast cancer diagnosis she endured a life-altering and prolonged injustice at work, eventually resulting in the loss of her job and complete financial ruin. That trauma sent her to rehab and into recovery, and ultimately back to her hometown San Diego to start her life over. Five years later, the lawsuit is still in progress, so the details will remain confidential until it’s safe to share that story. And when the time comes, your jaw will be on the floor. As Kristen reaches each new milestone, we learn the language of cancer and work our way through the endless unknowns, from understanding the breast cancer stages to the variations in breast cancer treatment. We notice that her doctors carefully stay in their lanes and learn what each of them do and don’t do. Our observations and obsessive questioning begin to uncover patterns in cancer care that we don’t understand, particularly the philosophy of shared decision making. As Kristen grapples with the staggering decision about whether or not to have radiation, we wonder how cancer patients are expected to make confident, educated decisions on their own. While the breast cancer survival rate is 90% according to the internet, it doesn’t stop well-meaning onlookers from making assumptions that are unfair or uninformed. Survival rate might be high, but what does survival actually look like? There is no return to normal when you come out on the other side. Breast Cancer Stories brings us behind the scenes of a disease that affects so many families, yet is surrounded by so many myths and stereotypes. Kristen brings her full authentic self to every episode to reveal the things we never hear about having breast cancer. If you are battling breast cancer yourself, Kristen will help you feel less alone, more understood, and more informed. If you are searching deep in the web for breast cancer information, one of the most beneficial ways to feel less lost is hearing real stories from people like Kristen. Whether you have a friend, a family member, or a friend of a friend with breast cancer, or you lost a loved one to it, Breast Cancer Stories will help you better understand what’s happening.

Breast Cancer Stories follows Kristen Vengler, a 56 year old single empty nester in San Diego, from her diagnosis of hormone positive breast cancer through chemotherapy, double mastectomy & breast reconstruction, radiation, and whatever happens after that. This podcast is about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time. In 2020, Kristen moved from Austin to San Diego to start her life over after a life-shattering workplace trauma. A few months later she had that terrifying moment in the shower we all hope we never have. If you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer and have no idea where to turn, this podcast is here to help you through the shock of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Kristen had no breast cancer symptoms. The routine mammogram she had a few months earlier, which is the standard breast cancer screening, was completely clear. She found her tumor only because it had reached the surface of her skin. And in that moment, the entire world changed. One of the most detectable breast cancer signs is a lump in the breast or underarm, and Kristen found hers in the shower. What causes breast cancer? This is largely a mystery for most women, but Kristen had a few ideas about what might have contributed to hers. The first thing she blames is stress. Not just everyday stress, but two years before her breast cancer diagnosis she endured a life-altering and prolonged injustice at work, eventually resulting in the loss of her job and complete financial ruin. That trauma sent her to rehab and into recovery, and ultimately back to her hometown San Diego to start her life over. Five years later, the lawsuit is still in progress, so the details will remain confidential until it’s safe to share that story. And when the time comes, your jaw will be on the floor. As Kristen reaches each new milestone, we learn the language of cancer and work our way through the endless unknowns, from understanding the breast cancer stages to the variations in breast cancer treatment. We notice that her doctors carefully stay in their lanes and learn what each of them do and don’t do. Our observations and obsessive questioning begin to uncover patterns in cancer care that we don’t understand, particularly the philosophy of shared decision making. As Kristen grapples with the staggering decision about whether or not to have radiation, we wonder how cancer patients are expected to make confident, educated decisions on their own. While the breast cancer survival rate is 90% according to the internet, it doesn’t stop well-meaning onlookers from making assumptions that are unfair or uninformed. Survival rate might be high, but what does survival actually look like? There is no return to normal when you come out on the other side. Breast Cancer Stories brings us behind the scenes of a disease that affects so many families, yet is surrounded by so many myths and stereotypes. Kristen brings her full authentic self to every episode to reveal the things we never hear about having breast cancer. If you are battling breast cancer yourself, Kristen will help you feel less alone, more understood, and more informed. If you are searching deep in the web for breast cancer information, one of the most beneficial ways to feel less lost is hearing real stories from people like Kristen. Whether you have a friend, a family member, or a friend of a friend with breast cancer, or you lost a loved one to it, Breast Cancer Stories will help you better understand what’s happening.

Location:

United States

Description:

Breast Cancer Stories follows Kristen Vengler, a 56 year old single empty nester in San Diego, from her diagnosis of hormone positive breast cancer through chemotherapy, double mastectomy & breast reconstruction, radiation, and whatever happens after that. This podcast is about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time. In 2020, Kristen moved from Austin to San Diego to start her life over after a life-shattering workplace trauma. A few months later she had that terrifying moment in the shower we all hope we never have. If you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer and have no idea where to turn, this podcast is here to help you through the shock of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Kristen had no breast cancer symptoms. The routine mammogram she had a few months earlier, which is the standard breast cancer screening, was completely clear. She found her tumor only because it had reached the surface of her skin. And in that moment, the entire world changed. One of the most detectable breast cancer signs is a lump in the breast or underarm, and Kristen found hers in the shower. What causes breast cancer? This is largely a mystery for most women, but Kristen had a few ideas about what might have contributed to hers. The first thing she blames is stress. Not just everyday stress, but two years before her breast cancer diagnosis she endured a life-altering and prolonged injustice at work, eventually resulting in the loss of her job and complete financial ruin. That trauma sent her to rehab and into recovery, and ultimately back to her hometown San Diego to start her life over. Five years later, the lawsuit is still in progress, so the details will remain confidential until it’s safe to share that story. And when the time comes, your jaw will be on the floor. As Kristen reaches each new milestone, we learn the language of cancer and work our way through the endless unknowns, from understanding the breast cancer stages to the variations in breast cancer treatment. We notice that her doctors carefully stay in their lanes and learn what each of them do and don’t do. Our observations and obsessive questioning begin to uncover patterns in cancer care that we don’t understand, particularly the philosophy of shared decision making. As Kristen grapples with the staggering decision about whether or not to have radiation, we wonder how cancer patients are expected to make confident, educated decisions on their own. While the breast cancer survival rate is 90% according to the internet, it doesn’t stop well-meaning onlookers from making assumptions that are unfair or uninformed. Survival rate might be high, but what does survival actually look like? There is no return to normal when you come out on the other side. Breast Cancer Stories brings us behind the scenes of a disease that affects so many families, yet is surrounded by so many myths and stereotypes. Kristen brings her full authentic self to every episode to reveal the things we never hear about having breast cancer. If you are battling breast cancer yourself, Kristen will help you feel less alone, more understood, and more informed. If you are searching deep in the web for breast cancer information, one of the most beneficial ways to feel less lost is hearing real stories from people like Kristen. Whether you have a friend, a family member, or a friend of a friend with breast cancer, or you lost a loved one to it, Breast Cancer Stories will help you better understand what’s happening.

Language:

English

Contact:

2063709095


Episodes

If This Is What Kills Me, At Least I Lived a Good Life

8/4/2022
Persistent foot pain caused by chemo forces Kristen to spend hours each day on physical therapy, taping, and stretching her feet at home. Wowing her friends with her ingenuity, she reveals that flesh-colored socks with the toes cut out are the trick to wearing flip flops to a wedding. A few weeks before her final reconstructive surgery in a moment of darkness she candidly asks, “if this is what kills me, have I lived a good life?” Answering this question leads her to reflect on just how much...

Duration:00:26:37

The Last Night Before The Last Surgery

7/8/2022
On the eve of the final reconstructive surgery, which coincides with the 1-year anniversary of her mastectomy, Kristen reflects on how far she’s come and how many things are different from what she expected. Finally relenting to the damage in her feet, she applies for a handicapped placard and shares her relief over no longer having to schlep across enormous parking lots while protecting her chemo toe and tolerating persistent pain in her feet. While looking forward to the final surgery and...

Duration:00:27:12

Things to Know Before You “Just Get a Port” with Dr. Aaron Fritts

6/30/2022
The list of things to do before starting chemo includes the seemingly ordinary task of getting a port (sometimes called a medi-port). Get your blood work, pick up groceries, wash the car, get a port… But port placement is actually surgery and being unprepared for the procedure can result in some unpleasant surprises or unexpected pain. Interventional radiologist Dr. Aaron Fritts explains the procedure and answers our questions about ports, including a step-by-step walk through of the...

Duration:00:40:09

Day 463: Porn Star Sized Breast Implants Were Never On My Bucket List

6/23/2022
Six weeks after the (evil) expanders are out and new 700cc “porn-star-sized” breast implants are in, Kristen shares what it feels like to be on the other side of the painfully long process of stretching her skin to make room for the permanent replacements. After falling into the bushes while climbing the path to her beloved apartment near the beach, she faces the harsh realization that her body is not going to be back to “normal” anytime soon. Because hormone blockers cause brittle bones,...

Duration:00:18:37

Two Nurses Turned Patients: Author Theresa Brown, RN & Natasha Curry, NP

6/15/2022
As a nurse, you never truly understand the level of terror your patients are experiencing until you become one yourself. New York Times best-selling author Theresa Brown, RN, shares her breast cancer treatment journey along with details about her new book, “Healing.” Diagnosed with breast cancer in fall of 2017, Theresa underwent a lumpectomy and four weeks of radiation before starting Tamoxifen, which ruined her life for three and a half years before she quit. With our Season 2 Breast...

Duration:00:37:50

Natasha’s Story: Nurse Becomes Patient [Season 2 Trailer]

6/13/2022
Natasha Curry is not your everyday average nurse. As a palliative care nurse practitioner at San Francisco General Hospital, she cares for the poorest and most vulnerable at what is often the most challenging time of their lives. Many patients are homeless and also struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, in addition to cancer and other life-limiting diseases. It’s tough and heart-breaking work. Last year, while leading a Doctors Without Borders cervical cancer mission in Malawi,...

Duration:00:06:12

Beating Lymphedema with Lymphatic Massage Expert Christine Galione, MSPT, CLT

5/27/2022
When and if lymph nodes have to be removed in the course of breast cancer treatment, lymphedema is a persistent aftereffect that must be treated and cared for following surgery, sometimes for many years. Special guest and lymphedema specialist Christine Galione, MSPT, CLT is a physical therapist and expert lymphatic massage practitioner at Scripps Memorial La Jolla who has been helping breast cancer patients with lymphedema therapy since 2004. Christine helps us understand what the lymph...

Duration:00:39:56

Things You Need for Radiation with Jen Delvaux

5/12/2022
To help make radiation go a little better, Kristen teams up with guest Jen Delvaux to talk about their radiation experiences and share the little things that made them more comfortable. Most women head into radiation not knowing the process or what to expect. Intimidating machines, tattoos, buzzing noises, orders about how to move (or not move) are overwhelming. Taking a backseat to treatment needs are ease and comfort—not that anything about radiation is particularly comfortable. If you’re...

Duration:00:47:26

Day 422: The Weight is Off My Chest

4/28/2022
It’s the day after Kristen’s surgery to replace her expanders with permanent breast implants, and she’s already feeling much better. For the last 33 weeks, Kristen lived with a constant 2-4 pain level from the uncomfortable and awkward expanders. Today her chest looks normal again, even if it will never feel the same. Kristen trusted her plastic surgeon Dr. Sal Pacella to choose the size and shape of implant that looked best in her body, and was amused to find out that she is the proud owner...

Duration:00:22:21

Day 420: Goodbye Franken-Boobs

4/21/2022
It’s the night before Kristen’s implant exchange surgery. After 9 long months, the painful, lopsided tissue expanders will be replaced with silicone gel breast implants and her constant pain will come to an end. At her pre-op appointment with Dr. Pacella, Kristen imagines choosing the new boobs will be like walking into a candy store and exploring an array of breast implants. Adding to the already full plate of post-chemo and post-radiation health issues, a series of surprisingly bad effects...

Duration:00:24:47

Day 403: What They Don’t Tell You About Hormone Blockers

4/8/2022
Nobody told Kristen just how horrible the side effects from the hormone blockers would be. The neuropathy in her feet causes her to walk like an old woman and she struggles with simple, everyday movement like standing up from the couch or walking up stairs. To combat calcium loss from the hormone blockers, Kristen has a Zometa infusion which causes severe and prolonged side effects, prompting Dr. Ali to order a CT and setting off a cascade of anxiety while wondering if the cancer has...

Duration:00:34:10

Day 365: I'm Still Here

3/24/2022
Kristen returns to Austin during the holidays to help a friend recover from surgery, clear out the last of her old things from the storage unit, and close the door on 26 years of her life. A stinky side effect leads us to invent a new dance move, and in honor of the 1 year anniversary of Kristen’s diagnosis, we attempt a round of rapid fire questions which completely backfires thanks to “chemo brain.” Links Support the Breast Cancer Stories podcast...

Duration:00:28:36

Deconstructing Kristen’s Breast Reconstruction with Plastic Surgeon Dr. Salvatore Pacella (Part 2)

3/10/2022
In part 2 of our conversation with plastic surgeon Dr. Salvatore Pacella, we go behind the doors of the operating room to understand how the team functions and learn some surprising things about surgery. Looking back on Kristen’s extraordinary pain in the hours following surgery, we get real answers about how and why her pain was so extreme and what could have been done differently. Dr. Pacella walks us through what to expect during the exchange surgery and subsequent nipple reconstruction...

Duration:00:22:05

Deconstructing Kristen’s Breast Reconstruction with Plastic Surgeon Dr. Salvatore Pacella (Part 1)

3/3/2022
Kristen’s plastic surgeon Dr. Salvatore Pacella joins us to deconstruct her breast reconstruction and help us understand his strategy for the multi-stage approach in which the expanders are placed at the time of mastectomy and replaced with breast implants following radiation. We ask all the unanswered burning questions, including whether he can even recognize Kristen with her clothes on and how the recent consumer trend of moving fat to increase the size of one’s rear end has had a positive...

Duration:00:27:23

Day 301: Another Day in the Valley

2/17/2022
Two months after radiation, Kristen’s chest isn’t looking like such a hot mess anymore. But in mental health terms, we’re in the valley now and nobody knows how deep or wide that valley will be. Kristen learns the hard way what happens if she misses a dose or two of her hormone blockers, and explains what her physical therapist is doing to prevent lymphedema. We wonder about past decisions like using birth control pills and estradiol patches and theorize about whether some dumb lifestyle...

Duration:00:22:52

Day 248: Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again

1/28/2022
Despite increasing pain and burns from the most recent round of radiation, Kristen manages to keep up with work and spend time with a friend at the beach. With only five days left until the end of radiation and “no evidence of disease,” surely there’s a celebration in store? On one hand, yes, and maybe even a silly Halloween costume in the works. On the other hand, one does not just bounce back after breast cancer and Kristen is surprised to find that she’s never going back to who she was...

Duration:00:28:39

Day 198: Why I Decided to Have Radiation

1/13/2022
Weary and desperate for a break in the relentlessness of breast cancer treatment, Kristen makes the decision whether or not to proceed with radiation. While the medical team followed a tight protocol during chemo and surgery, suddenly now to receive advice, statistics, or data she has to ask the right person and the right questions to inform her next steps. Kristen describes the first radiation appointment, which is not a treatment but a team of “nerds” including a physicist who...

Duration:00:38:45

Day 176: This Is Not The Outcome We Wanted

12/30/2021
Kristen goes into the operating room hopeful that this milestone is the end of her cancer, but wakes up ten hours later realizing the number of drains in her chest means the worst possible outcome. The next morning she learns that 11 lymph nodes were removed for testing, which means it’s probably not over and she went through chemo for nothing. Communication missteps, pain control issues, and brain fog added to the challenges of the hospital stay. While recovering and waiting two long weeks...

Duration:00:32:18

Day 160: What Snacks Do You Bring to a Double Mastectomy?

12/16/2021
How do you prepare to have a part of your body removed forever? What snacks do you bring to a double mastectomy? For Kristen, the list starts with a good pillowcase, her Anna Ono robe, her softest Kyte Baby jammies, slippers, her YETI cup, and shirts with places for drains. As her surgery date approaches, it’s not the loss of her breasts that makes her fall apart sobbing, it’s imagining herself unable to pick up the baby she nannies for the next 2 months. Now enjoy a haiku in memoriam of...

Duration:00:17:51

Day 151: How I Got Mentally Ready For A Double Mastectomy

12/2/2021
Kristen readies herself for the impending double mastectomy and reflects on her original thought process in which the bad old boobs are swapped for good new boobs and that’s the end. While watching Nightbirde, a young, single woman with cancer on America’s Got Talent, she realizes that the absence of people or material things cannot control her happiness. Links Support the Breast Cancer Stories podcast https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/breastcancerstories Watch Nightbirde on America’s Got...

Duration:00:13:10