We are thrilled to welcome Ngozi Ejedimu, founder of What Cancer Naija and The Judah Foundation for Breast Cancer, to our Council of International Advocates! Ngozi is a lawyer turned entrepreneur and breast cancer advocate educating women in Nigeria (and beyond) about the need to be breast aware and taking charge of their own health. She was diagnosed with BC and went flat in 2016. Welcome, Ngozi!
The Council of International Advocates consists of leaders in the flat advocacy community worldwide who have come together cooperatively to advance the interests of women going flat after mastectomy. The Council presents a unified message to stakeholders across the globe that aesthetic flat closure deserves parity.
Thanks to Survivingbreastcancer.org for helping us spread the word! If you are facing mastectomy and have decided to go flat, be sure to ask your surgeon for an “aesthetic flat closure” as defined by the National Cancer Institute… and make sure it’s in your medical record.
Read the latest Feature Friday on “Going Flat,” including Kim’s guest blog, here.
“The trauma of making peace with your surgical decision only to wake up to something completely different, is hard to describe. And it happens to women who are already at their most vulnerable, enduring cancer treatment. I struggled for weeks to fully accept what had happened to me. I felt violated, dehumanized, and alone. People would say things to me like ‘it can be fixed,’ or ‘at least they got the cancer,’ invalidating the trauma.”Kim Bowles, Guest Blog, SurvivingBreastCancer.org
Surviving Breast Cancer is a nonprofit providing education and support to breast cancer survivors nationwide.
“Hi everyone! I’m Devorah, from Boston. Happy second International FLAT Day! Right now, as you can see, I’m standing on a bridge. It’s the BU bridge that connects Boston and Cambridge, and in the background, our lovely city of Boston. I’m about to bike across; I biked here today. I’m here, like many flat women, to show solidarity, pride and connection with all of our flat sisters throughout the world. In 2019, my flat colleagues, Christy Avila and Robyn Towt, who testified before the FDA on the dangers of breast implants, launched this day to create awareness of “aesthetic flat closure,” a term that the National Cancer Institute just this year has officially recognized and endorsed.
“Aesthetic flat closure is a healthy and viable reconstructive option post-mastectomy which allows a woman to reclaim her beautiful, natural chest wall contour with minimal invasiveness and only one surgery. I am a flat woman, due to breast cancer, and I have reclaimed my body. Several weeks ago, our beloved RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice of the US Supreme Court, left us. Before I complete my walk across this bridge, I want to share a few thoughts that RBG has inspired.
“RBG said, ‘Fight for what you believe in.‘ This is what I do every day. I fight for truth, justice and equality for people who live with mental illness. I also fight for full and fair disclosure of all post-mastectomy options, including flat aesthetic closure, so that women like me can make an informed decision and give informed consent that works for them. RBG also said, ‘I dissent.’ And I say that too.
“I dissent, because I had breast cancer. I dissent, because I decided to get rid of the cancer AND my breasts. I dissent, because I decided to reconstruct my natural chest wall contour and not my breast mounds. I dissent, because a woman has the right to full and fair disclosure of all post-mastectomy options. I dissent, because a woman has the right to know about all the risks and benefits associated with each of these options.
“I dissent, because a woman has the right to be treated as a competent adult with agency to make her own healthcare decisions. I dissent, because a woman has the right to ask questions, and to be heard and understood in the medical consult. I dissent, because a woman has the right to have her informed consent respected. I dissent, because when I say ‘woman,’ I mean all women – black, brown, yellow, white, you name it. I dissent, because this is my body and my decision, just as this is YOUR body and YOUR decision.
“I dissent, because a woman doesn’t need breasts to be a woman. I dissent, because breasts do not define femininity or sexuality. I dissent, because beauty and life go far beyond breasts and nipples. I dissent because I’m fearless. And I dissent because I am whole. I dissent because I listen to the voice inside of me, and not inside of anyone else. I dissent… because aesthetic flat closure IS on the menu. I dissent because I am part of a supportive, energetic global community of strong women who are beautiful shining stars because they dissent.
“Happy International FLAT Day, ladies. And, be safe!”
Hot off the press! Beth Greenfield’s article for Yahoo Life about the great strides flat advocacy has made in recent years! Let’s keep up the good work to #putflatonthemenu and make sure women are empowered to advocate for their choice – #aestheticflatclosure!
From the article:
“People didn’t know what to ask for and we didn’t know what to offer them,” Dr. Pankaj Tiwari, plastic surgeon specializing in breast reconstruction in Gahanna, Ohio, tells Yahoo Life. “We would offer it without the vocabulary. But I think ‘aesthetic flat closure’ is a nice encapsulation of what patients should be seeking if they want flat closure.” Tiwari, who reached out to Bowles early on in her protesting after reading a story about her, says he was eager “to solicit opinions from people who spent a lot of time thinking about it,” and by doing so, has learned quite a bit about how to approach the procedure.
This beautiful, powerful awareness video was made by and for the flat community with the hope it reaches far and wide. “Stand Tall” this breast cancer awareness month and support research for a cure. Produced by Flat Retreat, @LessThanTwoBreasts, Linkage Beauty Movement and @StatisticalOddity. View in HD here.
[October 7th] The advocates at Ablatio Mammae – selbstbewusst ohne Brust have an incredible new podcast out! In today’s International FLAT Day episode, host Kerstin Grotelüschen discusses aesthetic flat closure, flat visibility and informed consent with guests from around the globe. Listen at the AMSOB website!
Rebecca Pine (The Breast & The Sea) presents a panel discussion on going flat, self-acceptance & body image at the virtual 2020 Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference (organized by Susan G. Komen). Panelists include Marianne DuQuette Cuozzo Artist and Kimberly Bowles (NPOAS).
SELECTED TRANSCRIPT (more to come): “Let’s talk about what aesthetic flat closure means. For me, it was just the way you did a mastectomy. Now I want people to know that people aren’t trained [in] that in general surgery. When I went through general surgery training, we were blessed with a breast surgical oncology fellowship at our institution, so the third year residents would rotate with the breast service for about two and a half months. So on that service, you learned how to do mastectomies, lumpectomies – it depended on what surgeon you were with, with how well they closed the chest wall. And most of our women did get reconstructions. So, when I became a fellow, the surgeons that I worked with trained us [but] it’s not a formal technique that you do.
“Being cognizant of how much tissue you have left on that patient – what we call medially and laterally, medially means closer to the sternum or the breast bone, and laterally is near the axilla or under the arm – so if you look at some women who have had mastectomies without reconstruction (or they’ve had the implants removed), sometimes you’ll see tissue left near the sternum. It looks like a dog ear – we call it a dog ear. Or you’ll see a lot of tissue – we call it “redundant tissue” – where the tissue kind of billows out, or kind of sinks in, especially after an implant has been removed. And so if you want to wear a prosthesis after you’ve had the implant removed, it’s not going to fit very well against a chest wall with all that excess skin, plus it will become irritated. And then a lot of ladies will complain of under the arm with all that fatty tissue, it’s hard to put the arm down, it’s unsightly, it doesn’t fit into your post-mastectomy bra very well. So it’s having an aesthetic eye, to understand that that tissue needs to go.”
Plastic surgeons are spreading the word – aesthetic flat closure. Our sincere thanks to Directory surgeon Dr. Ron Israeli and the team at NYBRA Plastic Surgery, including Drs. David Light & Jonathan Bank, for taking the next step forward towards parity! #flatfriendlysurgeons
Watch NYBRA’s recent discussion for Sharsharet, a nonprofit serving Jewish women and families affected by breast & ovarian cancers, about breast reconstruction options including aesthetic flat closure (that’s the very first slide, at 8:43!):
TRANSCRIPT: “So, I wanted to touch a little bit on aesthetic flat closure, because this is – in the past few years it’s definitely gotten a lot of publicity and press – there have been articles in the New York Times, going flat after breast cancer. And some women opt not to have a breast reconstruction, but that doesn’t mean that they’re opting not to have an aesthetic appearance to their chest, and this is basically what an aesthetic flat closure is defining.
“The National Cancer Institute (NCI) actually has on their website a definition for aesthetic flat closure, and the goal is exactly that, to provide an aesthetic flat closure – to remove the excess skin, prevent contour deformities of the skin, and allow for a pleasant appearance of the chest wall. Some women will go on to have tattoos over those scars to camouflage them, and have some body art, and others don’t – that’s obviously another personal choice. But it’s definitely an important thing to consider.
Plastic surgeons get involved with aesthetic flat closures and sometimes the breast surgeons, if they have the experience, will perform them on their own, but it’s certainly an option for any patient who’s unsure if breast reconstruction is right for them.” – Dr. David Light, MD