One of the best things we can do as a support group is to tell your stories. You have so much to share with those walking and struggling along a similar path, and no story is stronger than one told by those who need to tell it.
Happy February friends, fellow survivors, and fellow fighters. This month is usually one that celebrates love with candy hearts, cards, and enough rom-com films to drive you crazy. Red, pink, and white everything cover every surface of every drug store, department store, and grocery store that you walk into. But we are no strangers to the color pink. It's not just a color of love and Hallmark Holidays. It's a color of strength, fortitude, determination, and power. It's the color of battle and the color of remembrance. Valentine's Day is just one day, but love is something that should be celebrated in all forms every day. Love is something that keeps us fighting and gives us a reason one way or the other to get up and out of bed and to keep moving. Leave the candy and the cards behind, and let love carry you through all day every day. Don't let one day get you down, let it buoy you in remembering that love and determination are always with you.
In celebration of that idea, we are so excited to open up a new chapter in our blogs. If you have been following us on Instagram and Facebook (which, if you haven't yet, you should!) then you are probably familiar with our posts dedicated to #SurvivorSunday, and asking you to share your survivor stories with us. These are your stories to tell, and no one can tell them better than you. Now that we have had some incredible individuals share their stories with us, we will be dedicating some of our blogs to these people and the stories they have to tell.
We are so very excited to share our very first survivor story with you, and this extraordinary woman might look very familiar. We are honored to share with you the story of Savanna James, who was recently crowned Miss Summerville and will be going on to compete in the Miss South Carolina Pageant later this summer. Her platform is "Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention." How incredible is that? Her story is unique. It is a story about being a high-risk survivor. We are so proud to share her story because she represents more than half of our patient population. We excited to have her as an advocate for awareness and early detection. We are also very thrilled to announce that she will be apart of our team this summer, and will be a part of several upcoming events. Please keep your eyes and calendars open for that.
Without further ado, we turn this blog over to Savanna James, so she can tell you her story.
"Being 24, I genuinely believed that my "adult" life was just getting started. I had moved to Charleston and started working as Vice President of East West Gem Co. I grew up acting and doing pageants, and even though I knew breast cancer was heavy in my family, I didn't think anything could affect me this early. Unfortunately, this reality was shattered at my yearly OBGYN appointment. I was referred to the Breast Place immediately. After meeting with Dr. Beatty, I was advised that it would be in my best interest to have a double mastectomy. The decision to move forward was not easy, especially at my age, but it is one I am very thankful that I was able to make. I have watched several family members suffer and ultimately pass away from breast cancer. I chose to compete for Miss Summerville, sharing my story, because there are so many people who are unaware that they might be living in the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that others will hear my story and seek help, feeling comforted in knowing that they have options. I do not feel like any less of a woman for going through with the procedure. I honestly feel empowered that I was able to make a strong choice, one that could ultimately save my life. As Miss Summerville, and as Savanna, I hope that others hear my story and are influenced to be proactive, get checked yearly and to do self-checks. At 24, I stand with the 1 in 8.
Dr. Beatty and The Breast Place fully supported Savanna’s decision to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy. This decision is huge and personal. It should be thought out by each individual who may be facing it with education and research to understand the risks and benefits of undergoing a major surgery. A mastectomy can be life changing as it alters the appearance of the body you have known from birth and the decision to undergo one with or without reconstruction should not be taken lightly. Dr. Beatty encourages everyone in a similar position to research the pros and cons of surgery and understand that reconstructive surgery can be difficult but beautiful. Here at The Breast Place, we support our patients making decisions that are best for them as an individual as healthcare is not “one size fits all.
Breast cancer doesn't choose who it claims. A pageant queen, a mother, a doctor, a sister, a friend, it doesn't matter. What does matter is exactly what Savanna shares, and that is to be aware and stay on top of your health. Take control and take your yearly checkups and self check-ups seriously. At just 24, she made a powerful decision, that although scary, empowered her and gave her the power of taking a step in her battle against cancer. We hope that Savanna's story does give you hope to seek help and take comfort in the fact that there are always options available to you. We are very grateful that Savanna found comfort and help with us, and we hope that if you're looking for the same, you know that our doors are always open to you. Don't live in the "shadow of cancer", but come out into the sun.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Savanna. We are so excited to see where your journey takes you, and to continue working with you in the future. We would also love to hear YOUR stories and to share your experience to comfort and inspire others. If you would like to share, email us your story and a photo of yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured on our social media or in an upcoming blog post.
Remember, don't let Cupid's arrow get you down, and don't let it pop a hole in your sails. Love is something that we celebrate daily, and something we celebrate with you daily. Your journey is a daily struggle. It's hard, messy, scary, and frustrating. Remember that you have a place you are always welcome, and please know you are never alone.
Feeling alone, lost, and disconnected from the rest of the world are common feelings while dealing with your breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Feeling like this while raising a family will make it even harder. There are so many resources out there available for those going through the treatments and for those affected by it. Take advantage of them all, they're out there for a reason!
Being a mother with breast cancer is still a surprising topic. Even after the three blogs we've dedicated to the subject, you'll still find people balking at the idea. One of the hardest things is the fact that breast cancer diagnosis usually hit a family when life is already in full swing, and you're already overwhelmed with everything as it is. The treatment will automatically demand your attention when all you want to do as a mother is giving that attention to your children. The battle with giving time and fighting for both survival and your children's livelihood becomes a very tactile one. An exhausting one. A frustrating one. The idea that you have to face the reality of death a lot sooner than you could ever have imagined becomes a daily thought. Even if you do win your battle, recurrence tends to take over the worries in the back of your mind. The battle and worry will never truly be over. Even though you are fighting to beat this disease constantly, your first thought will always be that of your children.
As you fight your diagnosis every day, there are resources out there specifically designed and created to help your children cope. Similar to the resources we mentioned in our last blog, you might need to do some research about what you need and what your community offers. Help is out there, you just need to look for it and welcome it in with open arms.
For the Kids
Summer Camp might sound like the last thing you and your family want to do together or decide to send your children off to during your cancer treatment. But think about it this way - giving them another tool to deal with everything, continue to educate them during the whole process, and introducing them to kids their age going through exactly what they are, can be very empowering. That's exactly what these camps were designed to do. There are many free, low cost, and inexpensive options for summer camps that specialize in helping and connecting children who have been impacted by cancer diagnoses. Again, you just have to do a little research to find what is a good fit for your family. Check out these options below.
For more information visit their website below:
For more information, visit their website below:
Outside of these amazing opportunities to give to your children and yourself, there are still more resources available. Remember that feeling of being alone and lost? I hope these past two blogs have discouraged that feeling. Remember too that these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are more out there than you might realize.
We have talked about what you can do for yourself to make this process as a mother just a little easier on you and your family. Sometimes you need a helping hand, and that's okay. You're fighting a hard enough battle as it is, take advantage of what's out there for you. Please note that there are resources out there like:
We are here to support and guide you, but it is your choice to make this difficult time hurt a little bit less. Step up to the challenge and be willing to say "yes" to these options and more. If you ask for it, the help will come. For even more resources and information, please follow the links below. We will see you next time. Until then, be brave, keep fighting, and know you are not alone.
Becoming a mother is an exciting and wonderful journey. But what happens when that journey is disrupted with the diagnosis of breast cancer? What then? What are the best ways to handle motherhood and your breast cancer battle at the same time?
Being a mother is such an exciting, difficult, challenging, and wonderful thing. We thank our mothers for the love and care they've given us, and we strive to be the best mothers we can be for our children. But when a diagnosis of breast cancer steps into your life as a mother, what then? Naturally, the first thought will be of your children. How will I care for them? How will life go on for us as a family through my diagnosis and care? What happens when I can't care for them? What happens if I don't win this battle? In this two-part blog, we will be discussing what to do and how to handle parenthood while going through both your diagnosis and treatment. In the second post, we will be discussing and sharing some of the best resources out there for you to help through this journey.
At first, there might not feel like there are a ton of resources out there for you. As we discussed in our November blog, it's is still rare to be a young woman with a young family and be diagnosed with cancer. But, it still happens more than most realize. As a mother in this situation, you will be dealing with the same amount of day to day struggles and responsibilities, but it will get even harder when that diagnosis comes. You will now be facing treatment, care, long hospital stays, surgeries, and not feeling like yourself or very good at all while still dealing with your normal load of life. It is almost like your life has been split into two, and you have to live through both of them at the same time.
It is going to be difficult. That fact won't be a mystery to you. Being apart is hard, but with love and devotion, you've made that an integral part of your life. With this same kind of love and devotion, you can fight this battle as a parent. Please know that you're not alone. You might feel like you are, you might feel disconnected from your family and loved ones but you're not. Once the diagnosis comes, your first duty as you approach the battle is to rally your troops. If not for you, then for your children. Show them that they too will not be alone. The family dynamic might change while you're fighting your diagnosis, but there will be a parade of love and care for them and you if you let it.
There are many important things to keep in mind when going through your diagnosis as a parent. You will need to find the best fit for you and your family, make informed and family-based decisions on what's best for all of you, and your decisions will not be the same as anyone else's. This is all okay. Here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind as you begin this journey, together.
You are still a parent when you receive your diagnosis, this is not your fault. Your children want to help you, love you, and support you on this journey. Let them in. Know when to say no, be strong enough to set boundaries and to let people in, and know when it's time to ask for help. You will not hang up your superhero mom cape when it's time to ask for help or when treatment has you beat. If anything, it makes your cape that much stronger. We will see you next time for part two of this blog. Until then be well, keep fighting, and go into 2020 with your head up.
It's December already, how did that happen? Have you heard so many holiday greetings that you're going green in the face? Happy December! How ironic is that sentiment? The world around you is moving fast in Christmas trees, holiday lights, family gatherings, mountains of food, and holiday activities. But where does that leave you? We know a lot of people, especially this time of year, wouldn't come out and say this. But we will. When was the last time you were able to enjoy those things? When was the last time you went to a family gathering without dread or fear of being exhausted? How many festivals, plays, and fun holiday activities have you already missed because of the fight you're waging constantly? We realize with Christmas and many other holidays coming and going, it might not be a very happy time for you. A lot of people use the end of a new year and the exciting dawning of a new one as a time of hope, excitement, and starting a list of resolutions. But for you, it might be a different story.
It's hard to start a new year with hope when you're just hoping to get through another day. It's hard to have hope because you don't want it to be the last one with your loved ones. It's hard not to think that the end of this year might be the end of time, the end of life, or that you're running out of time. You might be focusing so hard on trying to make everything look and seem normal that you're overcompensating with buying more, doing more, and trying to be more. You're trying to make this time count. We understand that a new year for you doesn't necessarily mean new beginnings. It might mean the end of so many of your beginnings, your fight, your journey. The pink ribbons fade, you're tired of hearing the same news from your doctors and nurses, and you just want life to get back to normal. We want you to know that you're not alone. You might be tired, but you are worthy. You've gotten up time after time when you've fallen. You've kept going for your loved ones, for yourself, and sometimes maybe even out of spite. This year as you start decorating for the holidays - or decide not to celebrate at all - know that your silent thoughts, fears, heartache, and loneliness are not unheard or unfelt.
We respect that what this blog might offer might not be what you need or want to hear. Know that we respect your journey and someone is out there with the same weight on their heart as yours. The holidays are hard, there is no doubt about that. The stress of the holidays causes many people to get sick. Those with breast cancer will be affected by this stress much harder than the rest. Warriors, we know this might be your last holiday. The thought weighs on you that your families might not have you for the next. You could be worrying and thinking of other families who have lost their loved ones before this holiday. You might be worrying about who will take care of the little details and the special things that make this time of year special for your family. You might be thinking that you don't want them to think about a holiday without you, or about losing you in general.
But the holidays are still coming, nothing is stopping that. You want to enjoy them, but how can you bake or cook your favorite holiday meals when you can't eat? How can you enjoy going out and celebrating when this last treatment kicked you down? What about wrapping gifts, hanging ornaments, or playing in the snow when your hands and feet aren't working like they normally do, thanks to your chemo? Try and remember that this is your time now. Be gentle. Accept where you are today and where it will lead you tomorrow. Get rest, don't make hard plans, and know it's ok to skip out on a tradition or two. Talk about what you need and what you don't need. Throw out the "should be's" the "expectations for the holidays" how "you've always done it this way", and focus on your priorities. Pull your loved ones in, and let these other things go. Believe me, Santa will understand. Give yourself permission to celebrate in your own way, to have this day, and to know that you deserve the next.
What about the holidays after treatment? You've been so focused on just getting through and going through the motions that everything seems a little out of focus. What should you do now? Get outside, reflect on how far you've come, don't let the fear of missing out ruin your time. There is nothing wrong with changing how you celebrate. But there is also nothing wrong with trying to do the little things you love this time of year.
Families, let your warrior celebrate. Buy them the things they love. Maybe this year these things will mean a little bit more. If it's from the heart, it will always be a gift worth giving. Cancer may be a scary word, but your loved ones don't want to be feared. They don't want you to be afraid. This might be the last holiday, so why fill it with doubt or sadness? Life has already given them that. So it is your gift to give them to give love and light.
Warrior, I know you are tired. I know you are lonely. I know you feel unheard and unseen. I know you feel weak and sick. I know you feel angry, sad, confused, and lost. But warrior, I know that you have a good map, a good heart, and a good head on your shoulders. I know that this holiday can still mean something to you.
We have been reading some incredible blogs of women with metastatic cancer recently, and one ended with "survive and shine". It hurts to know that so many of these blogs were published weeks, months, and years ago and their writers might not be with their families this year. But this holiday season, I challenge you to survive and shine for you, your loved ones, and those beautiful warriors who are no longer with us. Make it your own, and make sure you shine as brightly as you can.
Sometimes you just need to find a connection or a voice that echos your own during your battle with breast cancer or during your recovery. Where better can you find that without leaving the comfort of your couch than the hundreds of blogs out there?
Some of the biggest things we are proud to offer are support, guidance, knowledge, and awareness. We've said it before and we will say it again: finding your tribe and support group before, during, and after your treatment is imperative to your well being. You need love and support to help fight your battles, even if that just means sitting with a friend, bringing a family member to your treatments, or sharing your story with others. No matter what that looks like for you, make it your own and an important part of your life. There might even be some support and love found in places you never expected and from people you'll never meet. You can read all the books, pamphlets, and articles give to you by your doctor. But finding a voice that echoes your own is very important. It makes you feel heard, relatable, seen, and not alone.
Some of the best places to find this connection today is in the hundreds of blogs written by men and women who are or have been in your shoes, and by their family members. You don't have to go far to look for them, just from the comfort of your home on your phone or computer. We wanted to share some of the top blogs out there that deal with breast cancer on a multitude of topics. No matter where you are on your journey, you will find a voice for exactly what you need to read and hear. If these blogs don't speak to you, there will be one out there waiting for you.
My Cancer Chic
From the heart and pen of a young breast cancer survivor named Anna, comes My Cancer Chic. Anna was diagnosed at 27 and during her treatment, it was hard to find women to connect with that were age and going through the same thing she was. She created her blog to share her story to hopefully find others like her and a place to pour her passion for style and beauty into. She is now three years into remission and carries her mission statement of love, support, and fashion for all who need it.
To read Anna's blog, follow the link below:
Breast Cancer? But Doctor...I Hate Pink!
The tough as nails Ann Silberman is the author of this blog whose "never back down" motto shows in every post. Her to the point, honest, and truthful experiences give a real day to day insight into her treatments, therapies, and live victories she enjoys along the way. She's very open about her Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and fills her blog with joy, humor, and grace. Her blog chronicles from the beginning of her experiences in 2009 to today.
To read Ann's blog, follow the link below:
Booby and the Beast
Writer Jen Campisano was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer at 32 and started her blog to keep friends and family updated. When she beat her diagnoses, her blog turned its focus towards mothers needing help to handle their metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. She is a proud activist working hard to raise awareness, fighting to find a cure, and is currently writing a book.
To read Jen's blog, follow the link below:
Let us Be Mermaids
Written by Susan Rosen, she uses the unique and beautiful image of a mermaid to remind women fighting with metastatic breast cancer that just like mermaids, they are strong, sensual, feminine, and incredible beings. The blog and the comparison serve as a reminder that everyone is inspired and awed by their presence. She's finding beauty in a time when it's easy to lose that feeling.
To read Susan's blog, follow the link below:
The Breast Place
We want to make sure our followers and the beautiful women we work with know that we also have our own blog. We write two blog posts a month for our patients, friends, and those looking for comfort and information. Our blogs range from updates within our offices, to day to day life, and educational tidbits. They have a consistent thread of support and inspiration through them all.
To visit our blog, follow the link below:
You have a voice that needs to be heard. If you haven't found yours yet, we hope these blogs and these women help a little bit every day.
Breast cancer has never been a diagnosis that attaches itself to a particular age group or generation. Although it is most commonly found in women over the age of 50, there is still a high number of young men and women who are diagnosed every year. One of the scariest things? The tools to help with the diagnosis and to detect at an earlier age are still not up to par, nor do they help with diagnosis as well as one would hope. When it comes to awareness, it needs to begin at a young age and not be a topic or knowledge limited to anyone.
It's common for many women to not worry about the slightest possibility of breast cancer until they reach their 50th birthday, after starting regular mammograms around their 40th birthday. But for many young women, just starting families and very exciting careers, it's a different story. According to the Young Survival Coalition, "breast cancer in young women tends to be diagnosed in its late stages and is more aggressive. It is estimated that 12% of cases of breast cancer will be in women under the age of 40 and approximately 26,393 women will be under 45 years of age. Every year more than 1000 women under the age of 40 die from breast cancer." Some of these young women who are diagnosed are very healthy and come from a family never touched by breast cancer, so it can come as quite a shock to receive this information out of the blue. Which is why we have stressed in past blogs, that as soon as you can start educating yourself and understanding your body as a young woman, the better. Be aware of signs, symptoms, and what to look for. Learn how to give yourself self breast examinations, and never be quite if something seems out of the ordinary. Be proactive in mentioning anything to your doctor, and never let something go unsaid. They are there to help you with any step along the way. Women who do have family members who have been diagnosed need to be even more proactive, starting exams early and having mammograms as early as their mid 30's. It is also recommended to do the newest genetic testing available to test for the BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene mutation. If you test positive for either, it is more likely that breast cancer could be in your future. If so, become proactive as possible and learn to watch your body closely with your eyes and those of a professional.
Sadly, as common as breast cancer can appear in younger women, it still isn't a topic that is spoken about enough. This is why we want to spread more awareness on the topic and provide some eye-opening information. Please take all of this information to heart, and spread the awareness as much as you can. Care for yourself and the women around you. Share, support, and never be quite. We are here to help guide you through any of these steps.
The Facts and Diagnosis
How it Affects Younger Bodies and Lifestyles
We are here to also spread awareness and offer as much support and guidance as you need. Be aware that cancer will never discriminate based on age or sex, and that staying as educated and aware about your body is the best defense that you can have.
Awareness shouldn't and can't be reserved just for October. Let it be a daily thing, something you can practice with others, and find a path that works for you. As we end October, we wanted to add a little continuation to our last blog. You can do so much for those who are fighting their cancer battle, but there is so much that all parties can do to help themselves and the world at large.
We have been proud to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness for all of October's 31 days. We have proudly been wearing pink, standing up strong with each of you, offering all the comfort and guidance that we could, and talking about how you can offer love and support to those fighting hard against breast cancer. We were very serious when we pressed that as important Breast Cancer Awareness month is, it's important to make this awareness an all year battle. This is a daily fighting for so many, and to conquer the battle, we have to fight and show awareness at every opportunity possible. Designating October to be Breast Cancer Awareness month has opened up the conversation about risk, education, the importance of getting a mammogram, breast health, and screening. Now that the conversation has started and continues to grow stronger every year, let's not lose the momentum!
Find your support group. For those fighting, surround yourself with what and who you need to keep going. Those who keep you inspired, keep you loved, and keep you fighting. If you are a woman who has just hit her 40th birthday, it's time to start getting a mammogram every year and doing regular self-breast examinations once a month. Self-breast examinations should become a practice in your life as soon as you hit puberty, and it needs to be a topic that can be discussed at any age. Find your tribe and support group who can start you off on a healthy and positive path towards your best breast health. Once you start giving yourself breast examinations and begin mammograms, make sure to take anything you find very seriously. Nothing should be ignored. Early detection leads to a very high rate of getting rid of any cancer cells.
If this is a scary path to walk alone, this is a good time to call on or to form your own group. One that can support you and hold you accountable. Find friends going through the same thing, lean on your mom, your grandmothers, aunts, and cousins. They'll be there. It is very important to take these steps as well if you come from a high-risk family. Take the steps to care for yourself because of those in your family who have been diagnosed, and with the possibility that you could be too. Those from high-risk families should start their screenings at 30 and return once a year.
You can also go beyond finding a support group. Find a doctor you trust and who allows you to make your breast health important to you. All of us at The Breast Place are here for you and your journey. Once you have started, don't stop. Inspire others, nurture those around you, and teach as many as you can. No matter your age, keep a support group and offer support to others if you can. The term bosom buddies has never applied better.
Head to Toe
Keeping your whole body healthy is just as important to your body as it is to your breast health. Regular exercise, a healthy sleep schedule, a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and practicing limited alcohol consumption can seriously lower the risk of breast cancer. Practicing these things and setting an example for others, can be inspiring to those around you and in your own journeys.
Be a storyteller. Too many women have fought the battle against breast cancer, and every day we are getting closer to changing those numbers for the better. But your victories, hardships, setbacks, and triumphs need to be heard. You can listen to your doctors, teachers, the news, and any book out there. But the stories told by your peers and others who have been on the battlegrounds, are what will really stick with you. If you're not ready to or don't want to share your story, that's okay. But know that someone out there needs and wants to hear your story, and someone out there will always listen.
Be a fierce listener. If your loved one is going through this battle, don't fill a conversation with your experiences or opinions. Just give them your love and what they need to say your full attention. In reverse, if you need someone to talk to, surround yourself with those who will listen to you and respect what you have to say. This is an important part of your healing process, and you deserve it as much as anyone.
No matter what your journey is, you have so much to share. Once you win your battle, be there for those who need it. If you are fighting, find sturdy ground to lead to victory. We are here to always promote, fight, and support awareness and we will help you do so in any way we can.
As October comes to a close, breast cancer awareness doesn't and shouldn't stop. Go beyond wearing pink and honoring these brave men and women for just a month. Find ways to support and love them all year round.
Happy Mid October, everyone! We hope you're still wearing your pink proudly and have been taking this month to reflect and support those who are fighting, have fought, and continue to fight the battle against breast cancer. But once this month is over, you don't have to stop your efforts. Use this month and every month to spread awareness about this disease that affects 1 in 8 women and over 2500 men a year in the US. It's a difficult fact, but most of us know at least one person who has been affected by this disease. We want to help and do anything that we can for our loved ones, but sometimes words fall short. It can be hard sometimes to know the perfect things to say or do during times of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. So, we wanted to share some tips with you on how you can support and love your loved ones as they start or continue through their journey. First, forget the pretense of perfect. Don't put that pressure on your loved one or yourself. Simple, honest things and actions from the heart always mean so much.
There is so much you can do, and even doing a little bit can go a long way. You can help your loved ones, and you can stand with them through their journey. We are here to help you stay strong, find your path, and continue your fight. We proudly wear pink for you this month and every month.
October is breast cancer awareness month. But for a survivor, it is every single day. Do you know the history behind the yearly observance and what happened before it officially started?
Happy October to our strong survivors, patients, friends, family members, and support groups. This month we will be standing together wearing pink to honor each of you. But before this yearly observance became a permanent staple in October, do you know how it was established and the history leading up to its creation? As we stand together, we wanted to share a little history of how we got to where we are today.
As you know, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an international campaign observed through the month of October. Its focus is to increase global awareness about breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was created as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the then Imperial Chemical Industry. The aim of the organization from the start has been to promote mammography as the best form of prevention against breast cancer. The purpose now is to increase awareness, to educate about the methods of early detection and prevention, and to raise money to continue research for a cure. But at the end of the day, it all goes beyond the month of October. It is truly about working towards prevention, education, and guaranteed treatment for everyone.
The very first organized effort to bring widespread attention to Breast Cancer happened as a week-long event in October of 1986. But the journey of awareness started long before that night in October 1986.
The 1980's came in with a rush of change along with a rush of sadness. After her three year battle, Susan G. Komen passed away at the age of 36. In 1982, the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was started, and in 1983 the very first Race for the Cure was held in Texas with 800 participants. Today those numbers are in the millions, and races happen across the country. They passed out pink ribbons as a symbol for awareness at the Race for the Cure race in New York City in 1991. But the pink ribbon is something of a mystery of how it came to be the symbol it is today and who is credited with its creation.
Some credit it to Susan G. Komen, some to a woman named Charlotte Haley, and others to Evelyn Lauder. Charlotte Haley in the late 80's/early 90's started to pass out peach color ribbons to raise awareness for the lack of breast cancer funding and research after her sister, daughter, and granddaughter were all diagnosed. Evelyn Lauder, who in 1993 formed the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, along with SELF Magazine editor Alexandra Penney approached Haley to use the ribbon. She refused, saying both Estee Lauder and Self were just too corporate. These women approached their lawyers who suggested they change the color. So they took the peach ribbon and turned it pink. When the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was founded, Lauder stated the pink ribbon as its symbol. But this was two years after the Race for the Cure passed them out in 1991. No matter its origin, today it serves a symbol of survival, strength, and hope. We wear it proudly.
Since the creation of these powerful foundations, many other walks and events have been organized to raise awkwardness, education, and fund to continue research. This includes the three day Susan G. Komen 60 mile walk.
Every day your strength and your story adds to this history. Even though you and the journey you are on goes beyond this one pink month, we will continue to use it to spread awareness for you. We are here to support you, proudly stand by you, and to remind you that on this journey you are not alone.
After a mastectomy, it's best to know all the options that are available to you and to make the right choice for your body and your needs. We want to see you first and talk about all of your options, of course. But Natural Breast Reconstruction is one of those options that offers its own path. Let's visit all of these options together.
It is our passion to be here for you in your journey. From the very beginning we want to be here with support, care, and knowledge. Your journey, your needs, and your recovery are just as unique as you are. Helping you along this journey and keeping you informed and comfortable to the options readily available to you is your choice and our main focus. Having another choice is always important. As you've gone on this journey with your doctors, nurses, and support team, I'm sure you have researched, had questions, learned a lot, and searched for more options since your diagnosis.
Making smart, healthy, and informed choices dealing with your body through this process is incredibly important. As your journey continues, you'll also need to continue to make decisions. This could include making choices as you're possibly facing a mastectomy. There are many options out there for you, and the choice varies personally from patient to patient and what their needs are. You might be looking at hidden scar surgery, nipple-sparing mastectomy, implant reconstruction, or natural reconstruction. Know your options and what is best for your body and your needs.
As we continue our journey with these blogs, let's talk about natural reconstruction. This procedure takes tissue from your body (like your stomach, thighs, back, or buttocks) and creates the reconstructed breast. The tissue used in this procedure is called a "flap", and there are a handful of different flap surgeries available to you. One is called a Free Flap. This removes tissue from its original blood vessels and is moved to your chest. This type of flap procedure requires your plastic surgeon to be skilled in microsurgery, which allows the surgeon to attach the blood vessels from the tissue flap to the blood vessels in the chest at its new location. This allows the tissue to receive the correct amount of blood supply it needs to thrive. The tissue is then formed into the shape of a breast and is stitched into place.
Another choice is called a pedicled flap. This allows the tissue to remain attached to its original blood vessels and is moved under your skin to your chest. Once it is moved to your chest, it too is formed and stitched into place. The newly reconstructed breast will have little sensation as you find with implant surgery. One of the plus sides of a flap procedure is that the tissue used is from parts of the body that are similar to breast tissue and feels very natural.
This natural type of breast reconstruction has become very popular over the years because it usually lasts a lifetime. After 10 to 20 years implants need to be replaced. After your mastectomy, and before you make any decisions on breast reconstruction surgery, we want our patients to visit with us first before making any decision on what's next. You have time after your surgery to decide what's next for you, the decision does not need to be made right away.
Depending on where the flap tissue comes from, there are different names for each type. These are some examples.
Flap Tissue from your Belly
Flap Tissue from your Back
Flap Tissue from the HiP/Buttocks
Picking the best flap for you all depends on your body type, breast size, if you plan on getting pregnant in the future, guidance from your surgeon and doctor, and what hospitals and surgeons are available to you. This procedure and the process it takes to decide is unique to your body, your lifestyle, and what you want your life to be. We are here to help guide and support you through this decision. Please don't hesitate to explore our website to learn more or contact us for more information. Today, as always, we celebrate YOU!