HHS recognizes March 21 as Breast Reconstruction Advocacy and Education (BRAVE) Day, which the Texas Legislature designated in 2017 to honor those affected by breast cancer and to educate survivors about their recovery options.
In Texas, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed among women across all race and ethnicity groups, according to the Texas Cancer Registry. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Hispanic women and the second leading cause of cancer death in non-Hispanic women in Texas. Each year, in Texas there are approximately 114 breast cancer cases per 100,000 women.
Cindy Nottingham, assistant director of HHSC Government and Stakeholder Relations, knows the reality of breast cancer firsthand. In November 2014, she was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive lobular breast cancer. Nottingham had a double mastectomy, followed by six months of chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery. Today, she is officially in remission.
“Early detection through a mammogram saved my life,” Nottingham said. “It had been five years since my previous mammogram, and my oncologist said if I had waited even one more year, they may not have been able to save me. I recommend that every woman get her mammograms, as recommended by her doctor. Being told you have cancer changes your life in ways you could never imagine, but early detection offers the best chance to see the ways your life can change.”
Women can reduce their risk and improve early detection of breast cancer by following the screening guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Women can talk to their health care provider to learn more about their own risk factors and screening recommendations.
HHS offers screening and diagnostic services through its Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program. Women with low income and no insurance who have been diagnosed with breast cancer may be eligible for the Medicaid for Breast and Cervical Cancer (MBCC) program, which covers medical care, including cancer treatments. MBCC may cover breast reconstruction for eligible women.
“Reconstruction is a very personal decision because there are several options,” Nottingham added. “I recommend women talk to their doctor about the options and make the right decision for them.”
For more information and to find a clinic near you, visit the Healthy Texas Women website. For additional education resources, visit the American Cancer Society Breast Reconstruction Surgery website.