After 15 years of plastic and reconstructive surgical nursing and helping numerous women through the process of breast reconstruction, I was still looking for a way that would help women through this emotional and stressful time. Establishing a support group for women undergoing breast reconstruction and taking a very personal interest in each women’s treatment never seemed like quite enough and I could not help but think that there must be something more that I could do or an other way to reach out to these women who were struggling so.
I still have memories of my first encounters with many of these women and can remember the devastation and fear that was apparent on their faces. They had different backgrounds, various lifestyles, personalities, and financial means but they all shared the same look of confusion and fear. They were confused about the possibility of disfigurement and how it could affect their life and their relationships. There was confusion about what could be done, where and when to begin, and how would it be paid for. Fear of the unknown was the most terrifying for all.
With all the progress that has been made in the detection and treatment of breast cancer, there are still too many unknowns about treatment, terminology, and reconstruction. I began to think that there must be a way to help all women become more informed about breast cancer and breast reconstruction before diagnosis. Simple facts and terminology logically complied together and available to all women, to be read and reread if ever needed or to be shared with a friend or a loved one. A source of basic information and a listing of resources for additional information about breast cancer, breast reconstruction ,and legislation allowing women to become more informed and familiar with breast cancer treatment and breast reconstruction options.
In hopes of eliminating some of the fears and unknowns about breast cancer and breast reconstruction I would like to share the following listing of basic information that I have personally collected.
Joanne Gladfelter, RN, CPSN
St. Louis, MO