Wednesday, November 14, 2012

BRA Need Goes Beyond a Day

The topic of BRA Day, a national Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, has been discussed on various breast cancer blogs. I've weighed in with my opinion in the comments sections but haven't developed my own post on the matter, until now.

I can appreciate the points that other bloggers make--that reconstruction isn't the big deal here. Saving lives is what's important when you get a bc diagnosis.

Yes, I very much agree. But reconstruction is not unimportant either.

To share information about my experience with the process is the reason I started this blog. It seemed important enough to me to do that, and even though I often think I might pull the plug on this virtual diary, I still come up with things to say on the topic.

Mostly that's because I'm still not done with reconstruction, a process I started more than four years ago. And I guess that's my main point. Reconstruction, like so many other things in life, is different for every person.

No one has an easy choice or an easy time with reconstruction; I'd rather we all never have to experience this or the cancer that brings it into our lives.

But I would say there is a continuum of complexity when it comes to reconstruction. The more treatment you have to have, the harder it becomes to put things back together. Specifically, women who must undergo radiation have fewer viable reconstruction options.

Implants in such a case have a high fail rate. So, even though there are very many competent implant doctors even in smaller towns, this route isn't feasible for many women.

And this is where things get tricky. Chances are you won't be able to find a plastic surgeon who can do the advanced fat flap transfer techniques who is also in-network with your insurance. It will also be very difficult to find a surgeon who has done many, many, many of these techniques close to home, unless you happen to live in or near a large city.

At the very least, this means having to travel far and wrangle a special agreement out of the plastic surgeon and your insurance to pay for the work, unless you're lucky enough for money not to matter. Then you'll need to line up local doctor support, which also can be problematic.

The information to do this is more or less out there on the Internet, but it's not easy to compile or compare. If you go ahead with a more complex route, you will feel like you wish there were more support, more information.

But I'm not sure a BRA Day is going to provide that. In fact, my guess is the aim here is much more superficial and financial.

So I don't support the day per se, but I do very much support more good, unbiased, reliable information about the trickier types of reconstruction that aren't readily available everywhere and that are often cost prohibitive.

There should be wider knowledge among all health care professionals about the many different reconstruction options. There should also be more real, good information widely available for women to make a reconstruction choice or to decline reconstruction. And it sure would be nice if finding a way to pay for what you need wasn't so damn hard.

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