On Wednesday, October 17, community members, breast cancer survivors, and their supporter and caregivers gathered to learn and celebrate at a Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day event hosted by Minnesota Oncology and Plastic Surgery Consultants at Pinstripes in Edina, Minn.
Many women who have undergone a mastectomy or lumpectomy are unaware of their reconstruction options available to them. Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day is an awareness campaign designed to put an end to the unknown by promoting public education, patient care and research.
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day was first launched in 2011 in Canada and now occurs annually in October. This initiative is a collaborative effort between the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The Plastic Surgery Foundation, plastic surgeons specializing in breast surgery, nurse navigators, corporate partners, breast cancer support groups, and organizations.
These organizations and breast cancer patients, along with their families and friends, coordinate events on the special day that include media events, question and answer sessions, lectures, flash mobs, fundraising parties, advertising campaigns, community events, and more.
Minnesota Oncology and Plastic Surgery Consultants’ BRA Day 2018 was kicked off with a message of hope and humor from Minnesota Oncology patient, breast cancer survivor, mom, and reality show Survivor™ Millennials versus Gen-X contestant Sunday Burquest. Plastic Surgery Consultants surgeon Dr. Valerie Lemaine, who both gave speeches that encouraged and educated the event attendants. Dr. Lemaine spoke with compassion about breast reconstruction options available to women who undergo a single- or double-mastectomy or lumpectomy after breast cancer. Her presentation, which was live streamed on Facebook, emphasized that women have options and freedom in the decision to have reconstructive surgery without guilt or shame. Sunday Burquest said the same.
“There are so many options, and there are so many amazing plastic surgeons. I think it is important that we are encouraging women and helping them know they can feel confident and look the way they want to look. You are worth it.” said Burquest.
The night ended with a panel discussion featuring Nicole Wrazidlo, a mastectomy and compression fitter for Heide’s Mastectomy Store, Sara Torgerson, DO, Minnesota Oncology medical oncologist, and Dr. Valerie Lemaine. They answered questions from the crowd about the specific clothing and compression needs for those who have undergone a mastectomy, preventative nutrition, and adjusting to life after breast cancer and reconstruction.
“Tonight we are raising awareness, and we are so thankful that you are all here.” Dr. Valerie Lemaine said. “It’s so important to have an event like this to share and learn about others’ experiences.”
After the event concluded, attendees were able to speak with the panelists and event sponsors about programs, options, and offerings for breast cancer survivors and people who support them. This was the first annual Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day event, and the Minnesota Oncology and Plastic Surgery Consultant teams look forward to next year’s BRA Day.