A New Start: New Laws Promote Options for Breast Cancer Patients

By: MEGAN GRAY-HATFIELD Staff Writer (mhatfield@gainesvilleregister.com)

Gaineville Daily Register

Every woman deserves to know about reconstructive surgery post-mastectomy, according to Morgan Hare, co-founder of the Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery Foundation in Dallas.

And that’s exactly what she and Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, hope two bills passed during the 85th Legislature will help do by officially declaring the third Wednesday in October of each year as Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, also known as BRA Day, and March 21 as Breast Reconstruction Advocacy and Education Day, or BRAVE Day.

The goal of Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day is to promote education, awareness and access for women considering post-mastectomy reconstruction.

Breast Reconstruction Advocacy and Education Day’s intent is to help promote breast reconstruction advocacy and education and the rights and choices women have for prevention of, treatment for, and recovery from breast cancer. 

Springer said his mother had reconstructive surgery following a double mastectomy due to a breast cancer diagnosis about 30 years ago. 

“I understand the importance of that being a part of the healing process,” he said.

Springer said an “awful lot” of people are affected by the disease, and when Cooke County resident Tamara Sieger approached him about making the two days official, he was eager to help.

He said while Breast Cancer Awareness Month is recognized every October, this was a way “to bring light to another part of the issue.”

Sieger, a Gainesville Fire-Rescue employee and patient advocacy director for AiRS, is a survivor of stage three invasive breast cancer and a patient of reconstructive surgery.

She said she learned about BRA Day, which was developed by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to educate people about their options, through the AiRS Foundation.

“There was nothing official in the state of Texas to recognize it,” Sieger said. “With AiRS being the leader in the nation, as far as foundations go, of educating, advocating and supporting women with breast cancer that have had a mastectomy and want reconstruction, I thought we needed to pave the way.”

The passing of the legislation in Texas is only the beginning, Sieger said.

“My goal is to have BRA Day passed in California and New York in the next year or so and then followed by the rest of the states,” Sieger said. 

Hare, whose organization raises funds for women who have had mastectomies and want reconstructive surgery but cannot afford it, said she is excited the bills were passed.

“Statics say up to 70 percent of women are unsure or unaware about their options or can’t afford the surgery,” Hare said via an email interview. “Not every woman wants reconstruction surgery but they need to know this is an option. Education and awareness are key. “

For more information about AiRS, or to apply for a grant, visit www.airsfoundation.org.