Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Terri Coutee. The focus of my professional life has always been in the involvement and practice of education. I am a trained ESL instructor and worked in public and private education until 2014. That was the year I returned to acquire my M.Ed. in Teacher Leadership. It was also the year when I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. I had a recurrence in my left breast and a new primary in my right breast. After the news of my second diagnosis, I faced a double mastectomy, loss of both breasts. I was one of the fortunate few to have a breast surgeon who discussed all my options for breast reconstruction before she performed my skin sparing, nipple sparing mastectomy in May of 2014.
While I was recovering from my mastectomy, I began researching the topic of breast reconstruction and finding the best microsurgery specialist. I could who met my criteria for a surgeon. I did not realize it at the time, but my background, pursuit of my M.Ed., and fine honing my research skills, combined with a second diagnosis, would be the catalyst of my current work in the world of nonprofit leadership and patient advocacy.
Where do you work and what is the focus of your research or connection to women’s health and cancer?
I work as a nonprofit leader who established DiepCFoundation.org
in 2016 after my successful DIEP flap breast reconstruction. This is a form of breast reconstruction that uses the patient’s own tissue (in this case, the abdominal tissue) to reconstruct a soft warm breast with blood flow and for me, sensation to the breast. The focus of my research is the latest treatment options, surgical procedures, and quality of life as it relates to women's health care and cancer.
How long have you been a member of the Network?
I am a recent member, since 2021, of the Scientific Network on Female Health and Sexual Cancer after meeting chair, Sharon Bober, PhD, at an online seminar hosted by the organization. It is an honor to have her as one of my valued guests on the DiepCJourney podcast
. This is one of many resources we provide at DiepCFoundation
for those affected by breast cancer.
What do you find meaningful and/or how have you benefited from Network membership?
The online presentation I attended is what initially drew me in. The quality of the presenters, the organization of the seminar, and interaction with attendees was highly informative and meaningful. When I read the mission statement of the Scientific Network and saw they promoted evidence-based education and practice, I knew I wanted to be a part of this. Collaboration, diversity, and excellence are the focus of my work. The Scientific Network consistently models this, and I knew it would only benefit and enhance the work I do with cancer patients. I am honored to be a member.
What is an interesting fact about you, or what is your favorite hobby?
A fascinating fact about me is that I have climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It was a fun, exhilarating, and shared experience with a dear caregiver who looked after me during my first diagnosis. My favorite hobby that is also a fun fact is that at the age of sixty-five and being a Nanna to two adorable grandchildren, I began weightlifting, as in dead lifts at the gym. I never knew the true benefits until I was encouraged to do it. But in the spring of 2021, I worked with a personal trainer and my personal best in dead lifts is 125 pounds. When I saw my oncologist for a routine checkup in the fall of 2021 she grinned from ear to ear and told me it was one of the best forms of exercise for women who have been through breast cancer treatment to promote bone health, balance, and a sense of body confidence. I couldn’t agree with her more! I love it!
As she noted above, Terri interviewed our Network Chair, Dr. Sharon Bober, for her podcast! Check it out here