Kristen Vengler isn't just the co-host of Breast Cancer Stories, it's also her story. From her diagnosis of hormone positive stage 3 breast cancer in late 2020, through chemotherapy, mastectomy, breast reconstruction, and radiation, she takes us along the sometimes rocky path from before to after.
August 4th, 2022 | Season 1 | 26 mins 34 secs
depression, foot pain, mud\wtr, reconstructive surgery
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 after 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 her perspective has changed through this experience
July 8th, 2022 | Season 1 | 27 mins 9 secs
anniversary, foot pain, neuropathy, pre-op
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.
June 30th, 2022 | Season 1 | 40 mins 4 secs
backtable, chemotherapy, interventional radiologist, mediport, port placement procedures, ports
The list of things to do before starting chemo includes the seemingly ordinary task of getting a “port” or “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 pretty unpleasant surprises and unexpected pain. Interventional Radiologist Dr. Aaron Fritts explains the procedure and answers our questions.
June 23rd, 2022 | Season 1 | 18 mins 35 secs
breast reconstruction, hormone blockers, neuropathy
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.
June 15th, 2022 | Season 1 | 37 mins 46 secs
book review, mammography, nurses, nursing, tamoxifen, ultrasound
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.”
June 13th, 2022 | Season 2 | 6 mins 12 secs
biopsy, lumpectomy, mammogram, san francisco general hospital, ultrasound
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. When she discovered an almond-sized lump in her armpit, she did everything she tells her patients not to do and dismissed it. One painful biopsy later, Natasha found out she had cancer; in one life-changing moment, the nurse became the patient. This is Natasha’s breast cancer story, told in real time.
May 27th, 2022 | Season 1 | 39 mins 52 secs
compression sleeves, cording, lymph nodes, lymphatic drainage, lymphatic massage, lymphatic system, lymphedema, physical therapist
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.
May 13th, 2022 | Season 1 | 47 mins 21 secs
aloe vera, ana ono, aquaphor, beachbody, mastectomy bra, miaderm, my girls skin care, radiation bra
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.
April 28th, 2022 | Season 1 | 22 mins 19 secs
ana ono, breast implants, exchange surgery, expanders, post-op, recovery, surgical bra
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.
April 21st, 2022 | Season 1 | 24 mins 44 secs
acid reflux, exchange surgery, implants, side effects, tissue expanders, zometa
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.
April 8th, 2022 | Season 1 | 34 mins 6 secs
chemo brain, hormone blockers, neuropathy, zometa
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. But you know Kristen. She's not giving up without a fight.
March 24th, 2022 | Season 1 | 28 mins 29 secs
estrogen, lymphedema, moving, stinky armpits, zometa
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.
March 10th, 2022 | Season 1 | 22 mins 1 sec
implant exchange surgery, nipple reconstruction, pain management, tissue expanders
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 coming up soon.
March 3rd, 2022 | Season 1 | 27 mins 20 secs
breast implants, diep flap, fat transfer, mastectomy, plastic surgeon, tissue expanders
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.
February 17th, 2022 | Season 1 | 22 mins 48 secs
breast reconstruction, estrogen positive breast cancer, hormone blockers, radiation, skin damage
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.
January 28th, 2022 | Season 1 | 28 mins 2 secs
bolus day, boost, radiation burns
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?