Breast Cancer Awareness Efforts Shift to Reconstruction
by Beauty Blogger Emmy Owens
One of the most recognizable marketing efforts in recent memory doesn’t come from a corporate powerhouse or include elaborate media campaigns. Rather, it’s an effort to raise awareness for an important cause, and it’s summed up by a single, ubiquitous color: pink.
The trappings of breast cancer awareness efforts surround us in the fall. October is the month when we honor those who have fought the all-too-common disease and donate our time and money to events that raise funds and awareness. Practically everywhere you look, from NFL games to local businesses, you find pink items that keep the cause at the front of your mind.
The campaign has had such success over the past several years that some are now looking ahead to a new facet of breast cancer awareness.
Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, or BRA Day, is a relatively new push to raise knowledge about a single aspect of cancer care that needs publicity, according to organizers and healthcare professionals.
After a breast cancer diagnosis or genetic testing, many women have lumpectomy or mastectomy surgery to remove part or all of their breasts. At that point, patients can get breast reconstruction with implants or their own tissue to restore the appearance of their breasts. And according to the website of Dr. Andrew Smith, a breast reconstruction specialist in Orange County, “Federal law requires that in most cases your insurance carrier cover the reconstruction.”
Unfortunately, research has shown that many patients are unaware of their options for reconstruction. A 2012 survey from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS) showed just 23% of patients “know the wide range of breast reconstruction options available.”
BRA Day and its affiliates aim to change that by “closing the loop” in awareness, symbolized by the classic pink ribbon tweaked to make a complete loop. The initial concept for the awareness day was created by a Canadian plastic surgeon in 2011, and the following year, the ASPS joined the effort and encouraged its many members to contribute.
Meanwhile, in 2013, actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie began to tell her story of discovering through gene testing that she was at a high risk of getting breast cancer. She underwent a preventive double mastectomy and breast reconstruction, bringing a new spotlight to the cause. Recent research has shown the “Jolie Effect” did, indeed, boost awareness of reconstruction and genetic testing.
Now, hundreds of events take place around the U.S. each year and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund, which “supports research focusing on breast reconstruction and provides financial assistance to uninsured or under-insured women seeking breast reconstruction.”
The charge is being led mostly by reconstructive surgeons and patients who got reconstruction, both of whom are personally familiar with the life-changing effects of the surgery. Awareness efforts include marches, fundraisers, open houses at surgeons’ offices, and more. Many events this year took place Oct. 21, the official BRA Day, and many others spanned the month of October.
Plans are already underway for next year, and events that are officially affiliated with the BRA Day organization can be found on the group’s website.