The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act of 2015: Re-introduced May 5, 2015.
As stated on the Congress.Gov website:
Amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to provide for the planning and implementation of an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients anticipating surgery about the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses, and other options, with a focus on informing patients who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups.
To the Members of the 114th Congress of the United States:
Close to 12% of women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. 2015 alone will bring an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer. According to statistics from Breast cancer.org 60,290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed. Surprisingly, and a little known fact, there will be approximately 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer expected to be diagnosed in men in 2015.
Could Members of Congress be Affected?
With an increase in the number of women serving in the 114th Congress in 2015 and using the above figures and statistics, there is the possibility that of the 108 female members of congress, nearly 13 could be affected by breast cancer. We could break this down even further into the racial and ethnic minority members.
The Value of Passing this Bill
I am two time breast cancer survivor who has become a patient advocate and educator for all options of breast reconstruction. I can tell you personally the value and importance of passing this bill. I faced a double mastectomy in 2014 and began my reconstruction process that year completing the final phase in 2015. Through local outreach, social media connections and setting up a forum to inform women of their reconstruction options, I have heard first hand of the value of women being informed and educated and proceeding with reconstruction. They were fortunate enough to be told by a medical professional about their reconstruction options after facing surgery to have their breasts removed, yes, a body part removed, due to breast cancer or a BRCA gene mutation. A BRCA gene mutation greatly increases a woman’s lifetime chance of getting the disease and results in the very real possibility of a prophylactic mastectomy to decrease this possibility.
With the reintroduction of this bill, we now know through evidence based research that women of ethnic minorities and rural demographics are the population that in particular is not being served and educated about breast reconstruction options. There are too many women who are not fortunate enough to be given this information. This is lost revenue, lost time at work, and psychological trauma facing women who are not informed.
Women who have their body restored to a condition close to what it was before their breast cancer diagnosis are women who have the confidence to move beyond the diagnosis, beyond the trauma of treatment, and beyond the surgeries and healing. They can continue to make a positive footprint in our society and know that there is a life after being an amputee due to a disease that knows no boundaries, no discrimination.
We are all affected by breast cancer either personally or through someone we know. I beseech you to move forward in passing this bill. We do not need more pink coins minted. We do not need more stamps to commemorate breast cancer research and awareness. We need to know that we have options for our bodies to be rebuilt so that we can continue to give back to our communities.
Minimum Cost & Maximum Gain and Benefit
The revenues needed to make this education and outreach become a reality can be kept at a minimum. If we inform the front line in this educational process, our physicians and surgeons who are involved in a woman’s cancer diagnosis or BRCA gene testing, we can start the conversation. Through my outreach, education, and advocacy I hear much too frequently from women that they are saddened and perplexed that the education and information is not being shared about reconstruction options. I have met far too many physicians that do not know about breast reconstruction options.
Continue the Momentum
How then can we change this and make this a reality for all women to know their breast reconstruction choices? As you return from the Labor Day holiday continue the momentum that has been generated this year in passing the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act.. When you walk around the floor of the House or Senate, know you are walking the floor with someone who very well may be facing or has faced the possibility of mastectomy. You would want them to know that they have options to return to normalcy through reconstruction after such an invasive surgery. Let’s make this happen for all women this year!
Patient Educator & Breast Reconstruction Patient