I had the honor of attending and modeling for an event here in Jacksonville called BRA (Breast Cancer Awareness) Day 2016. This is an event sponsored by St. Vincent”s Healthcare and Florida Plastic Surgery Group. It was held in a banquet room at Maggiano’s Restaurant. The set up was inviting and beautiful. Lots of pink!
From the moment I walked through the door, I felt as special as I did when I was a patient of Florida Plastic Surgery Group. The speakers and models had a reserved table up front. We were all given goodie bags, letters of recognition and thank yous. We were given drink tickets and door prize tickets.
A little over a year ago, I had to make the decision about breast reconstruction after I had a double mastectomy. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. After much prayer and discussion, my husband, Juan, introduced me to a co-worker who went through a DIEP Flap Reconstruction after her double mastectomy. We were at lunch with Pammy and Ty, her husband. They poured out their story to us. When they were finished, Pammy said to me, “C’mon!” She led me into the family bathroom at Cantina Laredo and took her top and bra off so that I could see what reconstruction looks like!! I burst into tears!! I had NO idea. She was beautiful! I had more questions, which she patiently answered. She told me to touch them so that I could feel how real they were. I had a renewed hope! I could do this!
Pammy was a speaker at BRA Day 2016. She shared her heartbreaking diagnosis, path to healing, surgeries and her hope of a future.
Our plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Fallucco, spoke on the different reconstruction options. Visit Florida Plastic Surgery Group to see what those are.
As Dr. Fallucco spoke we ate a delicious buffet put on by Maggiano’s. After a question and answer period, the models were asked to go to our dressing rooms. We were each given a robe to wear.
Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and those who have already had a mastectomy came into the dressing area to ask questions. I was honored to hear their stories. They had a chance to ask me questions and to see what DIEP Flap reconstruction looks like in person. My procedure went beyond the reconstruction. I had nipple reconstruction and areola tattoos. I was able to do for them what Pammy did for me! I think I was more blessed to share my experience.
The night included a reunion with my nurse navigator, Ruby, and Renee, the tattoo artist. I got to share with the PA, Alana, who assisted Dr. Fallucco in surgery. Juan won the caregiver prize–$200 to Three Forks restaurant, which we are sharing with Pammy and Ty!
It was an all around beautiful evening with a cause that I will speak about until there is a cure!