The History and Mission of Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day
Unless you have had a diagnosis of breast cancer and have undergone a system of treatment, you may or may not be aware of the relatively new Breast Cancer Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day. Designated during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, BRA Day was launched in 2011 by Dr. Mitchell Brown, a plastic surgeon with a practice in Toronto.
Currently, according to bra-day.com, “BRA Day has grown to include numerous events throughout Canada and more than 30 countries participating worldwide.” Here, in the U.S., the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF) lead the Breast Reconstruction Awareness campaign.
The intended purpose of BRA Day is to promote education, awareness and access for women who may wish to consider post mastectomy breast reconstruction. Historically, women have not known their options. In fact current research shows that “seven out of 10 women are not aware of their breast reconstruction options following mastectomy, and that less than one fifth of women who undergo a mastectomy go on to have reconstruction.” (http://www.bra-day.com/)
Awareness Through Celebrity
Were it not for celebrities like Angelina Jolie, and, more recently celebrity chef, Sandra Lee, most people would not even think about mastectomies and/or breast reconstruction unless they themselves were diagnosed and undergoing treatment. Not all women elect to have breast reconstruction post lumpectomy or post-mastectomy. In fact, according to bra-day.com, only one in 10 women will elect reconstruction. Nonetheless, it is important to know reconstruction is an option.
While obviously not the choice of everyone who undergoes a mastectomy, it is important to understand that reconstructive breast surgery can have a positive effect on the quality of life for women.
Be Aware of Your Options
All women who are candidates for breast reconstruction should be made aware of the options available which is one of the main objectives of the educational aspect of BRA Day. In addition, the initiative proposes that all women, “prior to undergoing breast cancer therapy, be offered information about the options for reconstructive breast surgery and be provided access to breast reconstruction in a safe and timely manner.”
Hopefully breast cancer survivors will be fully aware of the options available to them and make their choice based on what best serves their individual needs and desires. For many women their breasts represent the essence of femininity. For women who may be uninsured or under insured, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day helps cancer survivors, “move from despair into hope by promoting awareness, education and access to services.” As the movement becomes more integrated into the events of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, more and more life-changing stories will emerge and more and more women will understand that breast cancer is not always the death sentence that we once believed it to be. Instead it can be the path to greater awareness and even greater life whether the choice made is reconstruction or not.