Support breast cancer patients through BRA Day

Malcolm Roth, MD, ASPS President
08/31/2012 at 9:00AM

On Oct. 17, 20 nations will observe Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day (BRA Day), an event inaugurated in Canada last year by ASPS member Mitchell Brown, MD. It is an opportunity to recognize women with breast cancer, their friends and families - and ASPS and members of the Society are leading the charge in the United States with numerous exciting events planned for BRA Day USA (visit bradayusa.org).

One in seven women in the United States is destined to be diagnosed with breast cancer, yet studies show that only 30 percent of these women are informed of their options for breast reconstruction. I was personally involved in the incredible legislative effort that led to the Women's Health and Cancer Reconstruction Act in 1998, which requires an insurance company that covers mastectomy to provide coverage for breast reconstruction - and surgery on the other side to achieve symmetry.

It's astounding to know that despite this legislative victory, many women are still in the dark regarding their legal right to choose reconstructive surgery.

Years later, still no uniformity

The 1998 legislative mandate was an incredible example of plastic surgeons' power to influence legislators and convince them to pass laws to protect the rights of our patients and ensure access to care. Regardless, 14 years later, many women facing the loss of one or both breasts are not informed of their reconstructive treatment options - or that it will be covered by their insurance.

In New York, where I practice, and several other states as well, any facility that provides breast cancer treatment is required to inform women of the different types of breast reconstruction available. Similar federal legislation has also been introduced. Unfortunately, most women are still not being made aware of their right to choose.

BRA Day USA will be our keynote event, but it's just the beginning. The events that are being organized around the United States will be a clarion call for lawmakers to introduce and champion legislation designed to ensure women are made aware of their breast reconstruction options and rights. Our national campaign to promote Breast Reconstruction Awareness with public service announcements has already begun.

Jewel to perform at ASPS meeting

ASPS is proud to have singer, songwriter, poet, actor and humanitarian Jewel as its spokesperson to help raise awareness. And on Oct. 29, during Plastic Surgery The Meeting, we are having an event that is not to be missed - as Jewel and New Orleans celebrity chef Donald Link will present "An Evening With Jewel" at the Ernest Morial New Orleans Convention Center.

This is a charitable event designed exclusively to raise funds to support research for breast cancer and reconstruction, as well as to help women without insurance gain access to breast reconstruction - even with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, some women will remain uninsured. In addition, despite the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding this law as constitutional, full implementation is years away, even if efforts to repeal it fail.

The PSF, Breastoration - a New Orleans-based organization founded by breast cancer survivors to provide educational resources to empower all women at risk for, or diagnosed with breast cancer - will share the proceeds of this event. All of the money raised will go toward helping women with breast cancer conquer the disease and face the world with the self-confidence that many regain with the reconstructive surgery that so many of our members perform on a daily basis.

In addition, Jewel has written the song "Flower," which she's dedicated to women facing this challenge. She's also raised her level of commitment to this cause by agreeing to donate to The PSF all of the money raised through purchases of the song via iTunes throughout the duration of our Breast Reconstruction Awareness campaign.

I know that many of you will be joining us Oct. 26-30 at Plastic Surgery The Meeting in New Orleans. The city, emblematic of courage, perseverance, reconstruction and rebirth - is a living example of reconstructive efforts and the perfect backdrop for what's destined to be the most exciting and innovative annual meeting in recent memory.

A special ‘Evening' just for ASPS

Please join us Oct. 29 for "An Evening With Jewel." There are only 800 seats available for this special and intimate event - and it will mark an historic beginning for ASPS, The PSF and our dedicated and passionate partners. We will celebrate our Breast Reconstruction Awareness campaign with a sensational dinner prepared by chef Link (and possibly other surprise Crescent City talent) - capped by a special performance by Jewel. All dinner guests will receive VIP seating for the concert, which immediately follows our private event.

The concert will be open to the public, and proceeds from sales of these tickets will also go directly to our cause.

I certainly expect the evening to sell out. It will be a monumental event that recognizes and benefits so many of the women we see in our practices - and in our lives - who bravely confront life after breast cancer. Rather than hosting the traditional Presidential Dinner to celebrate the end of our terms, The PSF President Mike Neumeister, MD, ASMS President Bob Havlik, MD, and I agreed that we wanted to celebrate these courageous women.

Please buy a seat, bring your spouse or significant other, and consider buying a table. The cause is a worthy one, and you will enjoy "An Evening" that you will long remember.

For information on "An Evening With Jewel" and Plastic Surgery The Meeting, go to plasticsurgerythemeeting.org. For information on BRA Day USA, visit BRAday.org; plastic surgeons who would like to plan a BRA Day USA event in their community are encouraged to contact ASPS Media Relations Associate Marie Grimaldi at mgrimaldi@plasticsurgery.org.

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