Patricia Anstett, long time medical writer, embarked on a new mission in life when a close friend had breast cancer and Patricia’s eyes were opened to all of the difficulties and options involved. She was astonished to find out that fuller-figured women frequently have fewer choices and poorer results with reconstruction surgery and that nipples are so difficult to reproduce that many women never get them in the plastic surgery process. Patricia realized that if she didn’t know these things, after 40 years of reporting extensively about breast cancer, a lot of women probably didn’t know either. So, she assigned herself the important task of being a fly on the wall for all women–attending procedures, asking questions and sharing stories to help women make informed decisions about options for breast cancer treatment and reconstruction.
The Only Book with Real Personal Stories
Patricia said that women are no longer content to simply ask the doctor, “What would you recommend for your sister?” They want to be part of a team addressing their diagnosis and treatment of cancer. To do that, women have to know what the latest techniques are and what facilities and practitioners offer them. She wrote the only book that provides real insights from women who have been there, Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You, and she has a website to share current information like: On 50% of the mammograms done, cancer doesn’t show up clearly because the women have “dense breasts.” But there are complementary imaging processes, molecular breast imaging and other ultrasound imaging that can clarify the diagnoses.
In fact detection and early treatment are a challenge with today’s medical system in which mammograms are not approved until after age 45, and networks, insurance and specialized treatment interfere with access to a full range of options. While breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has improved, Patricia points out that far too many black women still die from the disease and young women getting preventive breast removals face other issues. Knowledge is power when it comes to our bodies and Patricia is determined to empower as many women as possible.
Our Bodies—Our Choice
Dr. Nancy tells her personal story about how it feels to get a questionable mammogram and both women discuss how we need to insist on being treated by our doctors as part of a team addressing the issue of our health. When a woman gets breast cancer, it affects her entire family. Dr. Nancy says, “It’s like they all have breast cancer.” So, women frequently cave to pressure from their families to get the most immediate prescribed treatment, rather than researching options for the best outcomes. Accepting a single referral for breast reconstruction is no longer the best course of action either. Frequently one surgeon only does one aspect of the procedure. Even though the reconstructed breasts are never the breasts a woman is born with, getting the best result in the fewest amount of surgeries should be the goal.
Listen to this interview for more interesting information, like the Facebook page that Patricia mentions for women who choose not to undergo reconstruction, called “Flat and Fabulous,” and learn how “The Pink Fund” helps people with money when they can’t work, and much more. Then check out Patricia’s website, bcsurgery-stories.com for free information and videos, and to learn more current news about breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and reconstruction techniques.