With their new logo resembling the pink ribbon often associated with the commonly advertised breast cancer symbol, the organizers of Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day reveal a message of hope to their attendees. Bearing proudly a similar, but new ribbon that spawns an extra loop in the design represented for many survivors of the disease a newfound belief in “closing the loop on breast cancer.” The information session focusing on various breast reconstruction options was held at the Brampton Civic Hospital. It drew together a collective group of cancer survivors, medical staff and a few family members in support of their loved ones.
Dr. Don Jones, the corporate chief of surgery, and physician head of oncology at the William Osler for both the Etobicoke and Brampton location expresses his support for cancer events like this by stating that, “they are excellent opportunities for people, patients and people who don’t have the disease to otherwise learn about the disease and specifically for this evening to learn about the options that are available after surgery for some patients.”
As Dr. Jones’ general theme of awareness and educating the general public rang loud and clear throughout the evening, it was Dr. Christine Tang, the anticipated main speaker for the event that really stole the show with her in depth presentation and descriptive information packages for her audience. Dr. Tang’s passion for her profession became quickly transparent as she openly admits that this was a profession she just knew she would be involved in.
Karen Portelli, one of the cancer survivors that spoke, courageously tells the crowd of the three palpable lumps that was discovered in her breast and that was later confirmed as malignant. She described her decision to have breast reconstruction and did not hesitate to praise her experience with the medical staff that assisted her in the reconstruction process. Ms. Portelli explains that “I was blessed to have a fabulous medical team to talk to, and that included Dr. Tang and her team who were absolutely wonderful. They walked me through all the options available to me and explained which options weren’t and why. They explained the ins and outs of creating symmetry, the risks and benefits of each procedure, showed me pictures and they were available to answer all of my questions.” With her options clearly laid out for her Karen felt assured she was made aware on what she was getting herself into. She explains that “going into the surgery I had realistic expectations. I knew I couldn’t get my natural breasts back and that these were replacements, but I was still really excited.” When asked if Ms. Portelli would do it all over again and make the same decision regarding breast reconstruction she replied confidently, “most definitely…in a heartbeat.”
With various breast reconstruction success stories like Karen Portelli’s to provide inspiration for women who are currently indecisive on what steps they should take, Dr. Tang uncovers some common factors and reasons that may distort this decision making process. In particular Dr. Tang revealed that many women believe that “first that they are not suitable. They feel that they are too old or that it costs money.” These particular misconceptions which are a result of not being informed and educated correctly on age and monetary options can deter many women from inquiring about how breast reconstruction can become an option for them. In fact many women are not aware or remain ignorant that OHIP covers breast reconstruction surgery altogether.
By Anna Katryan