Healing the Scars

Let’s say you’re one of the 227,000 women who’s diagnosed with breast cancer during the next year.  You meet with a cancer surgeon who tells you that you’ll likely need a single or double mastectomy. If that’s not frightening enough, your surgeons will not tell 7 out of 10 of you about your options for breast reconstruction.  You’ll have one or both your breasts removed and many of you will live with the devastating social, physical and emotional effects that are triggered by mastectomy.

Breast cancer surgeons in only two states—New York and Louisiana—are legally required to inform their patients that they can bring plastic surgeons into the operating room to start the reconstruction process immediately after their breasts are removed. A woman can wake from her surgery, not with a disfigured chest, but with breasts!

Two states! It’s darn hard to believe.  But it’s a sad fact. While breast cancer awareness campaigns have blessedly given millions of women knowledge about detecting this potentially fatal disease, “it’s time to close the circle and properly treat hundreds of thousands of women following their mastectomies,” explained Karen Craven, an executive of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Karen and her team at ASPS and the Plastic Surgery Foundation have worked long and tirelessly the last six months to launch BRA Day (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) in the US, after a successful launch last year in Canada.  Over 100 events are planned for today across the country, thanks to ASPS and its sponsoring partners, including MTF, a non-profit organization of medical academic teaching institutions and organ and tissue recovery agencies. The largest tissue bank in the United States, MTF provides prepared skin graphs that can be used surgically to restore patients’ breasts after mastectomy.

I had the pleasure of meeting a group of fabulous men and women from MTS this morning, on the plaza outside The Today Show studio at Rockefeller Center, where we all held signs promoting BRA Day. Karen and I met around 5 am, when the crowd starts to gather for the start of the 7 a.m. show. Not someone to do anything half-baked, she wanted to make sure the placards would show up when the cameras zoomed in on the crowd. They did.


The ASPS’ Karen Craven (pink sign), surrounded by the team from MTF

Karen’s passion for the cause can be traced back over three decades, when her aunt, who had a double mastectomy, came to live with her family.  “I will never forget my aunt’s distorted body after surgery and chemotherapy.  She had two open sores, which she suffered with, mentally and physically, until the day she died.”

I applaud Karen, the ASPS and all the companies who are dedicated to giving breast cancer survivors their bodies back.

Please check out http://www.bradayusa.org/breast-reconstruction.html.

Enough with the marching for breast cancer awareness.  That campaign worked.  Now it’s time to march and raise money for increasing the quality of life of survivors.  Not to mention, for a cure.

 

10 Responses to “Healing the Scars”

  1. Peter marquardt says:

    Today was to be an “off” day. One where I finish paperwork and let other writers know that I had read their work and appreciated it. I stumbled across this website and then this article and was impressed.
    Understand I am of the male persuasion. Some people have wondered why I will make comments about exactly what Geri writes about. I wanted to make it clear that my mother died from this insidious disease and that I have both a wife and daughter to worry about. Frankly, we need to stand up and pass this information on.
    Having said that I wanted to point out that this article is right on the money. I want to highlight it on my website, now. Not tomorrow or on Friday when I will highlight other products, services and people on my website, but now. This is about our wives, daughters, girlfriends, and yes even strangers.
    Well done, Geri.

    Peter

    REPLY
    • Geri says:

      Hi Peter,

      I just went back to this post because a member just made a comment and I wanted to reply. Your comment was wonderful; so well said.

      Thank you.

      What do you do?

      Geri

      REPLY
  2. Phylann Berry says:

    Hello, I have been told that I need a bilateral masectomy because I have a condition that holds a moderate to high risk of developing into breast cancer. I have begun to interview plastic surgeons and I am overwhelmed by making the right decision in regards to reconstruction. Any suggestions or information that you could offer would be would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank-you
    Phyl Berry

    REPLY
    • Geri says:

      Hi Phylann,

      If you live in New York, I recommend Dr. Constance Chen http://www.constancechenmd.org/ or Dr. Maria LoTempio http://www.lotempioplasticsurgery.com/ They both specialize in this kind of reconstruction.

      If not, let me know where you live.

      My best to you,
      Geri

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      • phylann berry says:

        Gee…..I wonder if getting breast cancer is god’s way of punishing me for committing adultery and abandoning my family when my youngest child was only 2 years old? What do you think?

        Phyl Berry

        REPLY
        • Geri says:

          hi phylann berry,

          i don’t think so. please don’t think that way. have you chosen a surgeon?

          geri

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          • phylann berry says:

            I can’t help feeling that way. I ran off and shacked up with a guy who pretended to be a real doctor. He’s really a psychologist but he tells everyone he is a doctor. What a sham that turned out to be. He also destroyed abandoned his family. Eventually we got married but I feel so guilty over what I did. My family didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I was very selfish and can’t help feeling guilty over the way I acted. Seems like karma getting even with me now for my awful selfishness in the past.

            Phyl Berry

  3. Blue Bear says:

    It just occurred to me that there doesn’t seem to be a woman in this country that doesn’t know of another woman who has had breast cancer. That is one scarey realization! There are just so many of us who are affected and yet we also know ladies who don’t get mammograms. I’m dealing with the possibility of clustered cancerous microcalcifications in my breast right now. Two mammograms and a biopsy but, the third mammogram is showing even more of these clusters. Yet, we wait and I have another mammogram in four months. The clusters are precursors to cancer and it would mean removing the entire breast rather than having a lumpectomy. It would never occur to me NOT to have reconstruction while I am still on the table. Why have two operations and put yourself in danger twice when you don’t need to? The word has got to go out that no woman has to live with the disfigurement of her breasts. I have a friend who had a mastectomy and reconstruction while she was five months pregnant! How brave and smart she is! The baby is now a teenager and Mom is fine. If you know anyone who has breast cancer, PLEASE tell them to ask about reconstruction. Their mental health depends on it!

    REPLY
    • Geri says:

      Hi Blue Bear

      Thank you for your comment. I hope everything turns out ok in four months.

      Geri

      REPLY

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