Culture 26 August 2018
Life has had its ups and downs, but through it all Janet Denlinger, Rod Rohrich and I have been blessed. We wanted to give back and give a voice to a cause affecting women who are not as fortunate as we are.
What we realized is that women are not obtaining the advice and counsel they require to address the continued healing and adaptations that are a consequence of such surgery.
While the treatment of breast cancer has progressed, one third of all breast cancer patients will inevitably have a mastectomy. In addition, more women are being diagnosed with the BRCA gene mutation and will opt for a risk-reducing mastectomy. It’s crucial that the medical community help educate and inform patients about their reconstruction options as an integral part of cancer treatment. To that end we learned that educating women about their post-mastectomy options is of particular importance, especially when considering that up to 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are unsure of — or unaware of — their reconstruction options. Many of those who desire this surgery do not have sufficient insurance or other resources to pay for it. And while every woman who has had a mastectomy might not feel the need for reconstructive surgery, they need to consider all their options.
What we realized is that women are not obtaining the advice and counsel they require to address the continued healing and adaptations that are a consequence of such surgery. The mastectomy itself is just a part of the recovery process, both psychologically and otherwise. Whereas the restorative breast surgery is an integral part of total physical and emotional healing for many breast cancer survivors in order for them to feel whole again and to restore their self-esteem.
There are many breast cancer causes and organizations that are dedicated to education, funding research and finding a cure and it has been through their efforts— from charity walks to pink products— that they have provided such a necessary service to the patients.
However, only a handful of organizations focus on providing funding and support for reconstructive surgery. Because of this, we founded the Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery (AiRS) Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Our mission is to be a resource and a support system for the women who have lost their breasts as a result of breast cancer, educating them on reconstruction options, as well as their health insurance coverage, and ultimately assisting them with the cost of reconstructive surgery itself, if qualified. AiRS makes it possible for women to consider all options regardless of their economic situation. AiRS also strives to be a resource and provide education about reconstruction for physicians and medical communities, as well as caregivers and advocacy organizations.
To help accomplish our mission, the AiRS Patient Advocacy Program is an essential service for patients, who may not have support systems or their families and caregivers to offer emotional support and help navigate the often frustrating and overwhelming health care system.
Who are our advocates?
Whether or not an advocate has any personal experience with breast cancer, an advocate is simply a caring person who is willing to listen, learn, and help someone who is going through a life-threatening illness.
educate patients about their options following mastectomy by providing resources and referrals.
Being there to lend an understanding ear and offer support and words of encouragement are wonderful gifts to patients who have already endured so much. Advocates make a difference in the lives of these women by supporting those who need help navigating an integral part of breast cancer treatment and recovery.
The primary goal of the Patient Advocacy Program is to:
Advocate and assist patients in navigating the health care system, promote patients’ rights, and speak on behalf of patients when necessary
Ensure that patients receive appropriate and timely care and financial assistance when needed
Educate patients about their options following mastectomy by providing resources and referrals
Provide compassionate support to help women through the physical and emotional recovery from breast cancer, and provide support to families and caregivers
AiRS relies on Advocates who commit to serve to meet the following expectations:
Provide empathetic and sensitive, discreet timely support and interaction with patients
Commit to learn about the various types of breast cancer, breast reconstruction
Understand the AiRS patient application and acceptance process and be willing to help patients through the application process, if necessary
Stay current with information about AiRS
To support or make a donation, visit www.airsfoundation.org
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist