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Patient advocate stresses the importance of breast reconstruction awareness


Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day is Wednesday, October 18, 2017. What does this mean to breast cancer patients facing mastectomy? What does this day mean to those who have a gene mutation putting them at high risk of breast cancer? How can Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day positively impact women and men when many feel the burden of seemingly endless information given to them about the diagnosis alone?

Education is an empowering tool. The goal of Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day is to give breast cancer patients the options and information needed to move beyond the diagnosis and look at choices they can make should they decided to reconstruct their breasts after mastectomy. The statistics are clear and evidence-based. Many women are not being educated about breast reconstruction when the discussion about mastectomy is taking place.

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day can help close this gap in education. The targeted audience then should be with organizations who support breast cancer patients. It is also of value to reach out to the medical community, both breast and plastic surgeons to ask, "Who are your patients and how can we help educate them about their options for breast reconstruction?"

This can be a day of education, fun and community bringing these patients into a safe environment to present options to them. It is true that breast reconstruction may not be for everyone. However, if the information is not even presented, an informed decision cannot be made.

I am continually amazed, even after being a patient advocate for over two years, when I see the look on women and men's faces who have no idea that there are a variety of options for breast reconstruction. Implants are not the only choice. There is autologous based reconstruction giving patients the options to use their own tissue to reconstruct their breasts. Many are not aware that fat grafting is part of the process that achieves symmetry after reconstruction. I personally feel that a successful Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day combines the following:

  • An educational component presented by a board-certified plastic surgeon.
  • A presentation from a breast surgeon who works side by side with a plastic surgeon in a team-based approach to breast reconstruction.
  • Testimonials from patients who have had a variety of breast reconstruction who can speak to the lived experience.
  • Information, contacts and resources for attendees to take home and consider.
  • FUN!! Engage your audience in activities that take away from the diagnosis and engage them in a community of like-minded individuals who have their best interest in mind.

These are just a few suggestions that bring us closer to the goal of closing the loop in breast cancer care by educating breast cancer patients about their options in breast reconstruction. Utilize the conduits of local media, social media, friends and family to help promote your event.

Breast reconstruction has been a life-changing experience for many, present company included. It is a multi-faceted process that can be overwhelming to think about after a breast cancer diagnosis. However, armed and empowered with education and support needed on Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, we can move one-step closer to helping others who have not been given this information.

Make it informative. Make it fun. Make an impact. Happy Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day 2017!

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