BRA day event a success, more work to do for reconstruction awareness

A special thanks to everyone who attended the Seattle Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day Soiree on Oct 17, and the many donors and participants who made it possible. I especially want to thank the many breast cancer survivors who were there. We have heard so many compliments, and I think our intent to raise awareness about a serious issue while celebrating the preciousness of life and beauty was a success. We may not have been as provocative as the flash mob (yes, literally in this case) in Vancouver, but our bustiér theme did get attention. (See Nicole Brodeur’s article in the Seattle Times here.
The hybrid nature of the event made it a bit difficult to pull off, so we appreciate those who took a leap of faith and gave us a chance. It was a BRA day event but not about bras; a charitable cause but not a fundraiser; and educational but not a seminar. Unfortunately that didn’t leave enough time in the program for more specific information about breast reconstruction, so here are a few highlights and useful links:
• Many mastectomies are now done using a skin-sparing (and sometimes nipple-sparing) technique, which allows for better reconstruction options without compromising cancer treatment. Reference
• The use of “Acellular Dermal Matrix” (ADM) materials to form a living internal bra allows for better shape, and more rapid reconstruction with less recovery time (as compared to older methods of tissue expansion, or use of flaps of skin and fat.) Reference
• Using a team approach, immediate direct-to-implant reconstruction all in one stage is being done increasingly. This means fewer surgeries and less down time.Reference
• Many factors impact the decision about mastectomy, such as the possibility of avoiding having to take estrogen-blocking medications for some types of tumors, or the desire to avoid radiation therapy which can cause hardening and distortion of the breast.
Despite these advances, most of which are relatively recent, breast cancer patients are not being informed about the reconstruction option, and when they are it is often later in the process when options may be more limited. (For example, radiation treatment makes reconstruction much more problematic.) So the whole point of the awareness event was to let women know that they need to ask about all of their options at the beginning of the journey.