Reflections of Gratitude from DiepCFoundation
November and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday have given me time to stop and reflect the true feelings of gratitude and this honor given to DiepCFoundation. “Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery”, the official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, published a special forward to their November 2017 supplement issue on “Advances in Breast Reconstruction.” The Journal contacted me prior to publication to let me know Dr. Rod Rohrich would be quoting me in the introduction to this supplement. September was an extremely busy month planning for upcoming conferences, fundraisers, and my own Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. Although, excited, I must admit I didn’t take time to appreciate the true impact of the honor.
I want to take this opportunity to publicly express my gratitude to the Journal, Dr. Rohrich, the Journal editorial staff, and the many board certified plastic surgeons who tirelessly work to find optimal ways to reconstruct lives upended by breast cancer. The Foundation is pleased to be mentioned in this publication. I speak proudly for the work of the Foundation, but I speak humbly for those it was started for and those that inspire me daily to continue this work.
Women and men who face a breast cancer diagnosis are fraught with a plethora of concerns about their diagnosis. The main concern and most importantly, the priority, is the absence and removal of cancer from their body. Often, that comes in the form of losing the body parts that define us as women and for men a disfigurement that can negatively impact the psyche.
We speak of “having the reconstruction conversation” as part of the breast cancer process in our circles of advocates and surgeons. We are aware how difficult this might be to hear about the surgery breast reconstruction includes to rebuild breasts and the recovery time that goes with it. But we also base the value of this information and having this conversation on evidence based studies, advances in plastic surgery, and listening to the lived experience of patients.
I often share the story of the day I walked into my breast surgeon’s office to discuss my mastectomy. I did not have breast reconstruction on my radar walking into the appointment. I did, however, walk out of her office that day with all my options and a true sense of hope I could rebuild my breast after losing them to breast cancer.
Breast reconstruction has at times, been received, and perceived negatively by those having a less than positive experience or worse, from the public and the press with opinions and suggestions, in my humble opinion, not grounded in full truths and evidence based research and science.
We must be diligent in and responsible for the information we share with the public, whether as professionals in the plastic surgery vocation or as patient advocates. My reflection of gratitude then, stems from my appreciation for the information I access from the PRS Journal. I rely on the high quality and standards that make it the respected source in plastic surgery research. The researchers, scientist, and surgeons who submit papers to the Journal do so for improving and optimizing the patient experience. If any readers are interested in the latest science in this field, the entire supplement is available for free (for 1 year) on http://PRSJournal.com : http://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/toc/2017/11001
My gratitude is reflected in the summation and thoughts shared by Dr. Rohrich in this issue. Thank you to the Journal and to Dr. Rohrich for referencing the Foundation and sharing my quote this month, a month to be grateful. I leave you with Dr. Rohrich’s words:
In honor of the 70th anniversary of PRS in 2016, I mused upon what the field of plastic surgery might look like in another 70 years, in 2086. I wrote “it is our firm home that by 2086 the scientific community will have won, or at least be winning, the war on cancer. It would be our specialty’s fondest pleasure to no longer have to perform any breast reconstructions following cancer.”8 We will relish the day when mastectomies and postcancer breast reconstruction are merely artifacts of the past. Until that day, however, plastic and reconstructive surgeons will continue to research and write and advance the science of breast reconstruction through studies and supplements like the one you are reading today. We pursue the advancement of breast reconstruction to continually improve the safety, outcomes, and care of women completing their battles with breast cancer through reconstruction. ~ Dr. Rod Rohrich