MISSOULA — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We often talk about mammograms and treatments and early detection. But what happens after?
There are several options for reconstructive surgery to try to put your body back together after a mastectomy. Now there is growing support for women who just say no, people who believe “flat is the new pink.”
“I probably cried every day for a year. And I loathed my body. Somewhere mentally I could not get past the image of who I suddenly was,” breast cancer survivor Diane Loewen said.
What Diane felt after surviving breast cancer and a mastectomy is not uncommon. She just won a war -- a war that changed her body. She already decided breast implants were not for her. She did not know she was one of the millions of women making that same choice.
“One day I saw a woman named Melanie — and she is part of a group called Flat Closure Now, — a non-profit and have worked really hard in spreading flat as a viable option,” Diane said.
Flat Closure Now and a host of other organizations talk about aesthetic flat closure; a surgical procedure to produce a smooth, flat chest wall contour for those who decide traditional reconstruction is not for them. It's a very personal choice.
“The breast does not define you as a person. They don’t define you as a woman I think that there’s levels of comfort for everyone to see scars. But I do think that just really being proactive, being comfortable with who you are, move forward. I can tell you taking many women on this journey, they come in afraid and frail and don’t know what to do. Can't make decisions. By the time they’re through this, they’re stronger than they’ve ever been." - Community Medical Center breast cancer surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Suh
There are many websites offering information from Fabulously Flat, Fierce, FLAT, Forward and Flatties Unite -- a network of support and education that can help a woman and her doctor make the best choice for her, no matter what it is. And coming soon, a one-breasted character on an extremely popular animated show which could move the conversation forward.
In the meantime, Diane has found support and wants other women to know beauty comes from within.
“I just want women to know all their options that you’re more than your breasts, that beauty is an inside job that breasts don’t define you as a woman. And I finally got there,” Diane told MTN News.
Diane will be at Rosauer's in Missoula from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26 to provide more information for those who have questions.