Many of us recognize the month of October as the first full month of fall, one that lets us wear costumes or perhaps simply the precursor to Thanksgiving. For me and many others though, October is the month of pink ribbons and raising awareness for something that affects millions of lives directly and indirectly – breast cancer. Just the name alone carries such magnitude in meaning and the effects breast cancer has on our loved ones are something I have witnessed firsthand. As a double board certified plastic surgeon, I have grown extremely passionate about breast reconstruction and educating patients on their options because many women simply aren’t aware of all of the potentially life changing opportunities that exist.
Think about these survey results conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons for a second:
- Less than 23% of women know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.
- Only 22% of women are familiar with the quality of outcomes that can be expected.
- Only 19% 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.
- 89% of women want to see breast reconstruction results before undergoing cancer treatment.
For some of my breast reconstruction patients, wanting to restore their breasts is something they choose to regain self-confidence or reduce the physical reminders of undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy following a diagnosis. In the end however, breast reconstruction is a choice and a very personal choice at that. To reduce the staggering percentage of women who are unfamiliar with post-cancer treatment options, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day (also known as BRA Day) was started as an initiative to promote education, awareness and access for women who may be considering breast reconstruction. BRA Day has always promoted a team approach to breast cancer because it’s important to have every vital component of a patient’s breast cancer treatment working together to improve a patient’s outcome and quality of life.
This year, BRA Day will be celebrated on October 21 and will be a day devoted to sharing, learning and helping. Nationwide events will give women a chance to hear from local plastic surgeons about breast reconstruction options, meet with specialists and other cancer survivors, plus a “Show & Tell” initiative where women can actually see what breast reconstruction results helped other former breast cancer patients achieve. It’s great to see cities across the United States embracing BRA Day and sending a powerful message to women to not only be proactive in educating themselves on their options but to be open and encouraging of other women who are facing a breast cancer journey of their own.
My passion for breast cancer fuels my deep connection with performing breast reconstruction because survivors have gone through an experience that is unlike anything many of us will ever experience. The outlook on life that many of my patients exhibit is encouraging beyond words as many them exhibit strength in the face of adversity but come out stronger and genuinely wanting to live life to its fullest. Each of these women and men I have met truly inspired me to create Life After the Fight, an interactive business directory for breast cancer survivors who started their own businesses after their breast cancer journey. Life After the Fight connects breast cancer survivors and their businesses with other professionals to promote their entrepreneurial endeavors to local patrons. Not only can we support local businesses, but we can support the survivors that have carried on after their fight.
When a patient chooses me to be a part of their breast cancer journey, it is truly humbling and always an honor for me. All it takes is a conversation to start learning more about breast reconstruction options and how it can improve a patient’s life. Our door is always open and we would love to help you get started on your breast reconstruction journey when you feel the time is right. Don’t hesitate to contact Southern Plastic Surgery with any questions you may have and remember – don’t give up the fight, you can do it!