4 Women Discuss On One Of The Least Talked About Breast Cancer Issues


It's the beginning of October, and as with every year, the month will be dedicated to raising awareness and funds for breast cancer causes.

A side to the disease that perhaps gets forgotten in the mix, is what happens after a woman has beaten it, and how their general health and body has been affected.

The AiRS foundation, short for Alliance in Reconstructive Surgery, is a non-profit, founded by two successful female entrepreneurs, Janet Denlinger and Morgan Hare. Their work began when they realized how many women, following breast cancer and the mastectomy procedure, could not afford to have reconstructive surgery after beating the disease. “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 which can lead towards healing emotionally and physically," says Dr. Rod Rohrich, founder and board member.

Below, SWAAY speaks to five women who have been helped by the foundation following their mastectomies, about their journey from diagnosis, to the discovery of the foundation's work and how they helped with their reconstructions.

Heather Allen.

Heather M. Allen, Age 36
Under what circumstances did you detect the disease?

I found a lump while taking a bath. I didn't have any symptoms that I knew of at the time.

After your diagnosis, please describe your journey in terms of treatment and how it affected you.

I had a very hard time with the diagnosis because I had just buried my mother 6 months earlier who died from ovarian cancer. I didn't know how to process what I was going through, at the same time I had six children at home to take care. I felt as if someone had given me a death sentence because I had no clue how I was going to be a wife, a mother, a homeschooling mom and battle cancer at the same time. Emotionally I was a mess and didn't know what to do. I had no one in my inner circle I could talk to besides an aunt that had breast cancer 25 years ago before me. The treatments were hard and they made me sick and I was weak all the time. Even though things started out rocky I thank God every day I made it through and am still here to talk about it.

Can you talk about any of the emotional side-effects of going through a mastectomy?

I felt as if cancer had taken away my ability and right to be a woman. In my eyes women have breasts and when they are gone then what? Will I still be beautiful? Will my husband still love me? Will my children be ashamed? Will people stare at me with disgust? After the surgery emotionally I felt broken, hurt, mad and not beautiful.

How did AiRS help you get your reconstructive surgery and how has this changed your life?

I was at a crossroads. My insurance didn't offer anyone that specialized in the field. The only way for me to get the surgery was to pay out of pocket and that was impossible with my family size and only my husband working. I told my doctor if I can't find help to pay for the surgery then I'm not having the surgery. I found AiRS online and spoke to a woman by the name of Tamara and explained to her my situation and prayed she would be able to help. After a short while I was approved to get help! It's really hard to explain how getting help from AiRS changed everything without shedding tears. My cancer made all my choices for me and I didn't have a say so. This was the one thing I wanted to be in control of and because of the financial help from AiRS I was able to feel that I was in control of my outcome, not cancer.

Looking back, can you give some advice for people going through similarly difficult circumstances?

It's okay to cry, it's okay to be angry. You didn't choose cancer nor did you do anything wrong. It's not your fault! Having cancer does not mean your life is over it just means you have to fight harder to enjoy it. Giving up is not an option! You're stronger than you think and you can push through it. There will be hard days, weeks or months but if you fight with everything inside you and never give up you can beat it! You are not alone.

Jenna Lynn Trout, Age 31
Under what circumstances did you detect the disease?

After I had my baby in 2014, I stopped breastfeeding and I developed mastitis and it lead into chronic subareolar abscesses. My symptoms were hot breasts, lump, and drainage.

After your diagnosis, please describe your journey in terms of treatment and how it affected you.

I had so many incisions and a lot of drainage. It was very painful, depressing and felt like it was never going to end. I was on antibiotics for about a year along with pain pills. I had to deal with packing and drains over and over till after a year the doctors felt like I had no cure and had to get both my nipples removed.

Jenna Lynn Trout.

Can you talk about any of the emotional side-effects of going through a mastectomy?

After having my partial mastectomy, it was a relief because I had been in pain for a whole year with pus filing in my breasts, it felt hot constantly and was always cut. But the actual emotional part of it was rough because I am so young, it was so unexpected, I didn't feel like a complete woman and my intimacy went down because I was insecure.

How did AiRS help you get your reconstructive surgery and how has this changed your life?

The AiRS Foundation completely changed my life! Since my diagnosis was not cancer and I did have a mastectomy, insurance said it was cosmetic. So I hit another low point in my life. I was depressed, discouraged and I felt like I was never going to be fixed. The AiRS Foundation has wonderful support! I was able to get my breast reconstruction and see Vinnie Myers to put on my areola tattoos. I, for once felt wonderful and complete again!

Looking back, can you give some advice for people going through similarly difficult circumstances?

Looking back on my difficult journey the best advice is to surround yourself with loved ones and talk about it as much as you need to. I've realized that when you do finally get the chance to reconstruct and get tattoos you will feel amazing again even though at the time you think it won't matter. I, in fact, happen to love my tattoos more than my real nipples! Again I am truly blessed to have had the AiRS Foundation along my side.

Lydia Amaya
Under what circumstances did you detect the disease?

I was diagnosed October 19,2015, on a routine visit to my OB. I never detected anything as cancer does not run in my family. I am the youngest of 15 siblings.

After your diagnosis, please describe your journey in terms of treatment and how it affected you.

As soon as I was diagnosed I had a Port put in for Chemo. I had a great team by the grace of God. I underwent 16 rounds of chemo and 28 rounds of radiation! The damage was done from that moment on, my children live in fear as do I. I can't so much as cough without my kids fearing the worst. I do my absolute best to look at each day as a new day, without the fear and anxiety. The truth is that I am a woman of faith and rely solely on the Lord above to heal this fear for all of us.

Can you talk about any of the emotional side-effects of going through a mastectomy?

Initially I thought I was okay with a flat chest! I have been married since the age of 15. My husband insisted on my beauty being deeper than my breasts. As time passed I became angry, even bitter and some might say depressed. I started to hang my head low and walk around as if I was ashamed. The reality was that I missed my female/ feminine curves, my breasts, my body and I hated the fact that I lost them. Eventually I realized I wanted reconstruction so bad.

How did AiRS help you get your reconstructive surgery and how has this changed your life?

AIRS made it all possible for me. I am a full time mom and I work full time. I have private insurance as well, however my deductible was an extremely large amount. I didn't think it was going to happen for me until I read about AIRS. I am happy to say that I had my reconstruction because of AIRS support and help on May 30, 2017.

Lydia Amaya.

Looking back, can you give some advice for people going through similarly difficult circumstances?

My advice would be, don't give up! Get online and do some research. Get information. There are amazing organizations like the AiRS Foundation that are willing to make things possible. My missing piece of the puzzle was completed when AIRS answered the call for help.

Sandra Joly, Age 44
Under what circumstances did you detect the disease?

I had a lump on my left breast and was not sleeping well, and had a lot of bags under my eyes.

After your diagnosis, please describe your journey in terms of treatment and how it affected you.

After being diagnosed, I felt as though I was going to die at any moment, and I worried about my 12-year-old daughter being left without a mom, and about my mom and dad being left without their only daughter. It was like if I was living a nightmare and that my beautiful life had come to an end. Cancer affected me emotionally, financially and physically.

Can you talk about any of the emotional side-effects of going through a mastectomy?

The emotional effect of a mastectomy was not as bad physically because I lived. It did affect my self-esteem, but I overcame that by buying a sports bra that had a little cushion, since I used to be a 36 DD my surgeon didn't leave me completely flat because I had a lot of mass. But the worst was the pain after surgery and having the five drains and open wounds. I healed pretty well because I had my mother taking care of me and of course I also had a nurse that would come to the house.

How did AiRS help you get your reconstructive surgery and how has this changed your life?

AIRS provided financial support as well as emotional support, and they were there when I most needed them, they paid part of my deductible for my surgery. It was amazing to know that there are people who care and understand, I didn't feel alone.

Looking back, can you give some advice for people going through similarly difficult circumstances?

My advice is that life is precious and that everyone that is going through Breast Cancer needs to be strong, and that we need our families, friends, and organizations like AIRS Foundation to ease our pain, in order to focus on healing. Always believe that we are warriors of life. We are survivors, and we need to stay strong in mind, body, and soul and not give up.

God gives his best battles to his best warriors. I consider myself very lucky and I want to continue to be on earth. I would do anything in my power to grow old and see my daughter grow, finish middle school, high school graduate from college, get married, have children and all a mother can wish for. I was given a second chance and I'm not letting it go.

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Choosing the Right Corporate Structure: Which Business Entity Should You Go With?

Business entities can be defined as the corporate, tax and legal structures which an organization chooses to officially follow at the time of its official registration with the state authorities. In total, there are fifteen different types of business entities, which would be the following.

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership or LP
  • Limited Liability Partnership or LLP
  • Limited Liability Limited Partnership or LLLP
  • Limited Liability Company or LLC
  • Professional LLC
  • Professional Corporation
  • B-Corporation
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Estate
  • Cooperative Organization
  • Municipality

As estates, municipalities and nonprofits do not concern the main topic here, the following discussions will exclude the three.

Importance of the State: The Same Corporate Structure Will Vary from State to State

All organizations must register themselves as entities at the state level in United States, so the rules and regulations governing them differ quite a bit, based on the state in question.

What this means is that a Texas LLC for example will not operate under the same rules and regulations as an LLC registered in New York. Also, an LLC in Texas can have the same name as another company that is registered in a different state, but it's not advisable given how difficult it could become in the future while filing for patents.

To know more about such quirks and step-by-step instructions on how to start an LLC in Texas, visit howtostartanllc.com, and you could get started with the online process immediately. The information and services on the website are not just limited to Texas LLC organizations either, but they have a dedicated page for guiding fresh entrepreneurs through the corporate tax structures in every state.

Sole Proprietorship: Default for Freelancers and Consultants

There is only one owner or head in a sole proprietorship, and that's what makes it ideal for one-man businesses that deal with freelance work and consulting services. Single man sole proprietorships are automatic in nature, therefore, registration with the state is unnecessary.

Sole proprietorships are also suited to a degree for singular teams such as a small construction crew, a group of handymen, or even miniature establishments in retail. Also, this puts the owner's personal financial status at jeopardy.

Due to the fact that a sole proprietorship entity puts all responsibilities for paying taxes and returning loans, it directly jeopardizes the sole proprietor's personal belongings in case of a lawsuit, or even after a failed loan repayment.

This is the main reason why even the most miniature establishments find LLCs to be a better option, but this is not the only reason either. Sole proprietors also find it hard to start their business credit or even get significant business loans.

General Partnership: Equal Responsibilities

The only significant difference between a General Partnership and a Sole Proprietorship is the fact that two or more owners share responsibilities and liabilities equally in a General Partnership, as opposed to there being only one responsible and liable party in the latter. Other than that, they more or less share the same pros and cons.

Registration with the state is not necessary in most cases, and although it still puts the finances of the business owners at risk here, the partnership divides the liability, making it a slightly better option than sole proprietorship for small teams of skilled workers or even small restaurants and such.

Limited Partnership: Active and Investing Partners

A Limited Partnership (LP) has to be registered with a state and whether it has just two or more partners, there are two different types of partners in all LP establishments.

The active partner or the general partner is the one who is responsible and liable for operating the business in its entirety. The silent or investing partner, on the other hand, is the one who invests funds or other resources into the organization. The latter has very limited liability or control over the company's operations.

It's a perfect way for investors to put their money into a sector that they are personally not experienced with, but have access to people who do. From the perspective of the general partners, they have similar responsibilities and liabilities to those in a general partnership.

It's the default strategy for startups to find funding and as long as the idea is sound, it has made way for multiple successful entrepreneurial ventures in the recent past. However, personal liability still looms as a dangerous prospect for the active partners to consider.

Limited Liability Company and Professional LLC

Small businesses have no better entity structure to follow than the LLC, given that it takes multiple good ideas from various corporate structures, virtually eliminating most cons that are inherent to them. Any and all small businesses that are in a position to or are in requirement of signing up with their respective state, usually choose an LLC entity because of the following reasons:

  • It removes the dangerous aspect of personal liability if the business falls in debt or is sued for reparations
  • The state offers the choice of choosing between corporation and partnership tax slabs
  • The limited legalities and paperwork make it suited for small businesses

While more expensive than a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, a professional LLC is going to be a much safer choice for freelancers and consultants, especially if it involves risk of any kind. This makes it ideal for even single man businesses such a physician's practice or the consultancy services of an accountant.

B, C and S-Corporation

By definition, all corporation entities share most of the same attributes and as the term suggests, they're more suited for larger or at least medium sized businesses in any sector. The differences between the three are vast once you delve into the tax structures which govern each entity.

However, the basic differences can be observed by simply taking a look at each of their definitive descriptions, as stated below.

C-Corporation – This is the default corporate entity for large or medium-large businesses, complete with a board of directors, a CEO/CEOs, other executive officers and shareholders.

The shareholders or owners are not liable for debts or legal dispute settlements in a C-Corporation, and they may qualify for lower tax slabs than is possible in any other corporate structure. On becoming big enough, they also have the option to become a publicly traded company, which is ideal for generating growth investments.

B- Corporation – the same rules apply as a C-Corporation, but due to their registered and certified commitment to social and environmental standards maintenance, B-Corporations will have a more lenient tax structure to deal with.

S-Corporation – Almost identical to a C-Corporation, the difference is in scale, as S-Corporations are only meant for small businesses, general partnerships and even sole proprietors. The main difference here is that due to the creation of a pass-through entity, aka a S-Corporation, the owner/owners do not have liability for business debt and legal disputes. They also are not taxed on the corporate slab.

Cooperative: Limited Application

A cooperation structure in most cases is a voluntary partnership of limited responsibilities that binds people in mutual interest - it is an inefficient structure due to the voluntary nature of its legal bindings, which often makes it unsuitable for traditional business operations. Nevertheless, the limited liability clause exempts all members of a cooperative from having personal liability for paying debts and settling claims.

This should clear up most of the confusion surrounding the core concepts and their suitability. In case you are wondering why the Professional Corporation structure wasn't mentioned, then that's because it has very limited applications. Meant for self-employed, skilled professionals or small organizations founded by them, they have less appeal now in comparison to an LLC or an S-Corporation.