On the evening of October 23rd over 200 women, along with their family and friends, gathered together at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston to learn about their treatment options for breast cancer. Known as BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day, this event was held to help educate and inform women on the options around breast cancer treatment.
“We wanted to close the loop on breast cancer and make reconstruction an integral part of the conversation,” says Dr. Glykeria Martou, a physician with the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario and organizer of the evening’s event. “We want patients to feel empowered to make an informed choice on what treatment option is best for them.”
For patients this event was a meaningful way to share their story, learn about treatment options and connect with others who can understand their journey with breast cancer.
“When I walked into the room I felt like I was part of a community and can see myself and my experience in each of the women here,” says Lisa, a survivor of breast cancer and past patient who shared her story with the audience. “This event is such an important opportunity for women to connect with other breast cancer patients, to share knowledge and gain information on treatment options which empowers women to make an informed decision that is best for them.”
The evening began with a presentation by Dr. Martou who provided an overview on what breast reconstruction options are available to women, what the criteria to become a candidate for breast reconstruction are and important considerations to keep in mind when deciding if breast reconstruction is the best treatment option for you. Following this, five patients who have undergone breast reconstruction shared their story with the audience.
“A breast cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience for a woman and her family,” says Dr. Martou. “Breast reconstruction may not be the right or best option for every woman, but by attending this event and listening to others who have gone through the experience they can be fully informed in their decision-making process.”
Having reconstruction as an option for breast cancer patients is relatively new for women in southeastern Ontario. Before the launch of the breast reconstruction program at Kingston Health Sciences Centre women had to travel to Toronto or Ottawa for breast reconstruction surgery.
“Tonight was also an important opportunity to celebrate the successful completion of more than 100 reconstruction cases in Kingston,” says Brenda Carter Vice-President, Quality at Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Regional Vice President of the South East Regional Cancer Program at Cancer Care Ontario. “This means that over 100 women were able to receive breast reconstruction following a mastectomy without having to travel outside of our south east region to receive this care. As we continue to increase the number of reconstruction surgeries offered in Kingston, we will be able to help more women return to their normal life quicker than ever before.”
BRA Day is a free annual event that is made possible with support from the Canadian Cancer Society and Rose of Hope. Planning is already underway for next year so stayed tuned for next year’s event details!