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BRAVE Day event reminds women of rights after breast cancer

Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center will host a Breast Restoration AdVocacy Education (BRAVE) Day event as part of a national public awareness push. While BRAVE Day aims to promote breast cancer awareness in general, its main focus is to educate women about their rights and options after breast cancer treatment, particularly regarding their breast reconstructive surgery options.

BRAVE Day celebrates the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, signed into law in 1998. WHCRA stipulates that insurance plans that cover mastectomies for breast cancer patients must also cover post-mastectomy reconstructive surgery, should a patient elect to have it.

The WHCRA details the procedures and expenses that are to be considered standard for women who have had a breast at least partially removed during cancer treatment: breast reconstruction, surgical procedures to promote breast symmetry, as well as prostheses. Any complications relating to the mastectomy, like lymphedema, must also be paid for by insurance.

The law penalizes insurance providers who attempt to influence physicians regarding their advice to patients about WHCRA-related procedures.

During its March 11 meeting, the Tualatin City Council approved a proclamation declaring March 21 BRAVE Day. The proclamation was presented by Councilor Nancy Grimes and emphasized that “breast surgery for treatment of cancer often results in disfigurement that has a significant impact on a woman’s self-esteem and well-being.” The proclamation stated that only an estimated 16 percent of patients who have had a mastectomy were aware of their rights under the WHCRA, and about 12.5 percent of women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer.

Thursday's event includes a presentation by a plastic surgeon, patient testimonials and a celebrity bra singing by “American Gladiators” champ Monica Carlson.

Legacy Meridian’s BRAVE Day evening festivities will be held today (Thursday) from 5 to 7:30 p.m., at Meridian Park Medical Center's Community Health Education Center, 19300 S.W. 65th Ave., Tualatin. For more information, call 503-699-6464.

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