Breast Reconstruction is a Tough Decision - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Breast Reconstruction is a Tough Decision

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Sandra Jackson has been on her breast cancer journey for thirteen years. Sandra Jackson has been on her breast cancer journey for thirteen years.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And this week, the Eye on Health team brings you a story of a very brave woman who hopes her journey of cancer and recovery can help others.

Sandra Jackson has been on her breast cancer journey for thirteen years. She had her left breast removed then, and this year, a lump in the other breast gave her a scare that the cancer had returned. It had not, but she had the breast removed anyway because she is so high risk.

"I've been without the left one. So what difference is it going to make? But now I'm on a total other level altogether, because now, its reconstruction," she said.

Without any breasts, Sandra suddenly felt incomplete in a way she never had before. At 57, she still feels young and she wants to feel like a woman again.

Sandra continued, "I need that for self. I need that for my ego. I need that to be selfish. This is me right now. This is all me. It doesn't have anything to do with anybody else. It's just me."

But Sandra could not find any African-American women who'd gone through the same thing and wanted to talk about it. She felt adrift and then William Zamboni, Professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of Nevada School of Medicine told her she was not alone.

Professor Zamboni explained, "It's really not any different than Caucasian or Hispanic patients, as far as the technical aspects of the surgery. The biggest difference would be post-operatively watching the scars because darker pigment tends to form a thicker scar."

Sandra's reconstruction will take three surgeries. The first will stretch her skin to accept the implants and then two outpatient surgeries to finish the effect. Last year, 58,000 American women underwent breast reconstruction.

Sandra has a non-profit organization called "Courage unlimited" to help other cancer patients and survivors.

One of the problems that Sandra faced in her decison-making was being unable to find a support network for reconstruction.

Karen Seale, with the local Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, admits there is limited support and resources for women considering reconstruction. But she says there are some ways they're able to help.

"We have a lending library with numerous books on reconstruction to help them make an informed decision about whether or not to go through the procedure as well. And we do have volunteers who've been through the reconstruction process and are very happy to talk with women considering the procedure," educator Karen Seale said.

There's also a local organization that raises funds for women seeking reconstruction. It's called My Hope Chest.

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