The journey from diagnosis to mastectomy to breast reconstruction takes an emotional toll. As someone is first beginning to walk that path, it's difficult to see beyond that moment and to imagine reaching the goal of restoration. The anxiety of the unknown can be pervasive. Certainly, our integrative approach provides many tools to our patients to assist them through the process and we observe how significantly this model has impacted our patients' healing.
It is also essential to acknowledge the tenacity of an individual during difficult times and to celebrate reaching the goals of physical restoration which seemed difficult to visualize at the onset. It is a reinforcement of one's inner strength and courage and an opportunity to reassess priorities in life. We often see the strengthening of partners as they share this experience.
Several years ago, we initiated a special ceremony to commemorate the final stage of the breast reconstruction process. Following a patient's tattoo of the areola, at the office, they are greeted with the music "Pomp and Circumstance" and awarded the Certificate of Completion. For those women with special support, the "Knight in Shining Armor Award" or "Sisterhood Support Recognition" are presented to their partners.
Today, following the completion of a patient's tattoo procedure, I once again viewed how meaningful it is to celebrate and reinforce inner strength. I began to play the graduation music and ceremoniously presented our patient and her husband with the certificates. Each choked away tears and, at the same time, demonstrated a sense of delight at the acknowledgement of their struggle together. Later in the day, I had the honor of presenting this meaningful certificate to yet another patient.
To the importance of celebrating each moment...to life!
-Mollie Sugarman, Clinical Director, Patient Empowerment Program
Photos: Patients receiving their Certificates of Completion, and a spouse receiving the Knight in Shining Armor Award