Photo by Nikki Ormerod

Today is Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, otherwise known as BRA Day. You will notice that there is no mention of cancer in BRA Day. The word reconstruction implies that we are not talking about cosmetic “augmentation” – or does it? The general population knows very little about what happens once you are finished your treatment for breast cancer, and there are people who think surgery for breast cancer is like getting a “boob job.”

For many women who have had breast cancer, having their breasts reconstructed can be an agonizing decision to undergo more surgery after going through the mental and physical exhaustion of breast cancer treatment.

They must take into account the various surgical options while weighing what they perceive may be the physical and emotional benefits and the impact on their sense of desirability; versus the potential problems and disappointments. Many women have difficulty accessing information and resources to help them understand their choices and their potential impacts, making a challenging decision even more difficult: to reconstruct or opt out of reconstruction altogether.

Breast reconstruction can be an essential step in cancer treatment and an important part of the healing process. Women who are diagnosed with a hereditary gene mutation may also opt to have reconstruction after undergoing prophylactic mastectomy. Unfortunately, wait times for reconstruction in Ontario vary greatly across the province.

Timely access to breast reconstruction is an important issue for Rethink because studies show that younger women are more likely to opt for preventative surgeries and reconstruction and that rates of mastectomy in women younger than 40 are rising quickly.

Advocating for patients needs, including improved access to reconstruction, is a priority for Rethink and we are committed to working to facilitate change that will reduce wait times in this area.

BRA Day was created to help women consider their choices around reconstruction and helps to normalize what can become a very permanent outcome of having breast cancer. Willow has created events across the country that involve some of the best experts in the field, and the opportunity for women to actually view others women’s reconstruction in their Show & Tell Lounge and create a community of support.

Come by our booths at BRA Day in Toronto or Calgary to learn more about how we are Deconstructing Breast Reconstruction. Not in either of those cities, or can’t make it tonight? Go here to learn more about our advocacy campaign.