|"The BRAve Faces of Breast Cancer"|
I was hanging our 2014 bra art in preparation for the next day's big reveal at the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day event here in Central Minnesota. This year the venue was the atrium and lobby of the plastic surgery clinic that has sponsored the awareness day for the past three years. One of the gals from the clinic, Laurie, and I spread the 40-some bras on empty chairs in the waiting room, so we could survey the scene and decide how best to group them on the walls.
As the self-described curators of the bra art collection (we now have over 100 bras), we take the installation of the exhibit very seriously, bordering on obsessive-compulsive, actually. And so we found ourselves running up against the end of the lunch hour, with patients beginning to filter in for their afternoon appointments.
As it happened, two of the women in the waiting room were there to see the doctor about DIEP flap breast reconstruction. Unfortunately they didn’t meet each other, since one was called into an exam room before the other arrived. The bras had inspired the first gal to offer to create one next year (when her chemo would be over and she’d have some energy)—and out of stained glass, no less. Can’t wait to see that one!
|"Take Time to Touch the Ones You Love"|
The bras also broke the ice between a second and third woman, as one revealed to the other her own plans for breast reconstruction. She’d had double mastectomies ten years prior and had finally decided it was time to replace the girls. Yet there was no hiding that she was nervous about her decision. It absolutely killed me to be overhearing this conversation, yet not have time to reassure her and offer a look-see in the bathroom. But Laurie had to be getting back to work, and we still had half the bras to hang.
The event went great – we had a good turn-out and awesome food. Also a panel of speakers, including the DIEP doc, a nurse navigator for breast cancer patients, a gal who’d had implant reconstruction, and a woman who’d tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene and opted for propylactic surgery and DIEP flap recon (in the course of her prophylactic oophorectomy, they found she had stage 0 ovarian cancer – boy, did she make the right decision). Then we awarded prizes for the most artistic bra, the most inspirational bra and the people’s choice. In addition to education, there were tears, laughter, and the great sense of comradery we breast cancer survivors and previvors always share.
|"Triple B: Buttons, Bows and Breasts"|
I’m hoping that part of next year’s program can include some private viewings—not of the bra art, but of the reconstruction art, if you know what I mean. Studies show that the vast majority of women facing breast reconstruction want to see actual results before making decisions. I really hoped that could be part of the program this year, but the powers-that-be nixed the idea. Maybe next year I can convince them—no matter how reserved we Nordic types may be. I guess unless someone’s been through breast cancer themselves, they can’t quite understand the need for the big reveal.
|"Looking for a Cure"|
|"Stitching Together Survivors"|
|"Just Bead It"|
|"Save ZE BReAsts"|
|"The Chosen One"|