By Lindsay Starr Platt
Thursday night attendees filled the Frank W. Mayborn Civic & Convention Center for an evening of food, drink, inspiration, encouragement and male doctors modeling bras for a live auction and entertainment. More than a dozen bras that were embellished and themed were worn by male Baylor Scott & White Health plastic surgeon residents and senior staff, as they shimmied and shook in hopes of getting high bids.
The event Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day was held to raise funds to help breast cancer survivors that do not have insurance coverage for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. BRA Day helps bring awareness to breast reconstruction options after a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction helps women improve their quality of life and move forward with a renewed sense of well-being after a devastating bout with breast cancer.
“This is terrific and we have raised a quite a bit of money. The biggest benefit of this night is raising awareness for BRA Day. Over half of the ladies who have mastectomies are not informed of the breast reconstruction options available to them,” said Dr. Charles Verheyden of Baylor Scott & White Health, Cosmetic Surgery. “We try to raise awareness that nearly every woman can have breast reconstruction. It is very rare that something cannot be done.”
The event was free of charge and included a meal, entertainments, Q&A sessions and open bar. Breast cancer survivors had the chance to speak at the event and be a part of the Q & A sessions along with physicians.
“It was such an honor to talk about my journey for BRA day. I was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer at the age of 39. During my journey, I had many complications. I was the .9999 percent that had the rare side effects,” said speaker Julie Moser and founder of Pink Warrior Angels. “Dr. Paker of Scott & White Cosmetic Surgery Center, was my plastic surgeon when I had my reconstruction surgery. I had a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and a total hysterectomy. I even refused chemo after the first dose. It was so hard on me. But, I wanted to live and had the oncologist conduct a one-type test to help me determine to continue on.”
The Q & A sessions were a great opportunity for survivors to talk to those just embarking on their cancer journey and what the could expect. The session provided mixed emotions of joy, tears and fears and the faith of the women that have survived.
“Though our friends and family were an amazing support system, they didn’t truly understand the challenges we were facing emotionally and physically. This is not something we believe can be fully understood unless you have experienced a cancer diagnosis directly. We know what it feels like to lose our hair, to face the fears and challenges of that first chemotherapy treatment, and then to cope with the loss of our breasts,” said Moser.
Verheyden said, “The current standard today for reconstruction is to make the patient look good with nothing on, not just to fill out clothing. The results of breast reconstruction are better than they were ten years ago. A popular method used today is fat grafting from the patient’s own body.”
“From the moment a woman is diagnosed, their entire life can take a turn. Though they may not realize it at first, seeking support through those that have experienced and conquered their own battles with cancer, is something we believe can help them along their journey,” said Moser. “No one should ever have to fight this battle feeling alone.”