Raising reconstruction awareness
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day ( BRA Day) was launched in 2011 by Dr. Mitchell Brown to “Close the Loop on Breast Cancer.” Dr. Brown had seen a number of women who would come to his Toronto practice for reconstruction having had mastectomies many years earlier and did not realize that reconstruction was an option at that time. The goal was to educate patients about their choice for reconstruction when undergoing mastectomy, and to ensure adequate access for reconstructive surgery.
The first BRA Day was marked by regional events across Canada in 2011. For BRA Day 2015, more than 30 countries hosted events in order to raise awareness about breast reconstruction and fundraise for breast cancer research.
This year’s event, held at the Centre for the Arts at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, brought together nurses, surgeons, industry professionals and women who have undergone reconstructive surgery following mastectomy. There was also an innovative “Show and Tell Lounge” where attendees could see real-life results of reconstructive surgery, as well as an exhibit hall featuring information from industries involved in assisting women before, during and after breast cancer surgery.
Breast reconstruction is available to most women post-mastectomy. There are three methods of reconstruction — using implants; using the patient’s own tissue; and using own tissue and implants together.
For many women, breast reconstruction surgery helps restore confidence, feeling of femininity, and gives them a sense of control over their lives.
“One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Dr. Brown, “but more than 90 per cent of Canadian women who have mastectomies don’t have reconstructive surgery, often because of lack of awareness and education about the procedures. Our goal is to make all candidates for breast reconstruction aware of their options at the time of diagnosis, and offer them treatment in a safe and timely manner.”
It is estimated that close to one million women have participated or benefited from BR A Day activities since its inception.
Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support has been a key partner in the development of BRA Day. Willow is now the national coordinator of BRA Day in Canada.