Mom, daughter share breast-reconstruction information


It's a part of breast cancer awareness that's not often talked about. And most women who deal with a diagnosis of breast cancer aren't given any direction on how deal with this part of treatment. But reconstruction can be as important as any other phase of recovery.

A local mother daughter team are making it their mission to let other women know.

Mother and daughter Shirley and Rachel Horn share a rare common bond. They both underwent a double mastectomy. Shirley's a survivor, and Rachel calls herself a "pre-vivor."

"It definitely helped that we had each other. Our surgeries are I think within six months of each other's," said Rachel.

Rachel's mom was diagnosed with her second bout of breast cancer in 2011. It was then that they both found out they each carried the breast cancer gene BRCA1.

Rachel, who was 21 at the time, opted for a preventive double mastectomy, the surgical removal of both her breasts.

"I just felt like it was looming and I didn't like that feeling," said Rachel. "I'd rather just move on with it."

Both women knew they wanted breast reconstruction at the same time they were having the mastectomies.

"I had counseling with the oncological surgeon and then also had counseling with the plastic surgeons even before I had my mastectomy," said Shirley.

At the time of their mastectomy, only about 5 percent of women choose to undergo immediate breast reconstruction. But experts say there are many reasons why they should choose to do it right away.

"Psychologically speaking and body-image-wise, it's very, very sort of helpful for the patient to go through this," said UCLA plastic surgeon Dr. Jaco Festekjian.

"It's actually very helpful to think 'Well what about afterwards?' And think about that all holistically instead,'" said Shirley.

Rachel and Shirley will both play a role at UCLA's "BRA Day USA" seminar. BRA stands for Breast Reconstruction Awareness. They want women to know all their treatment options, and that reconstruction can help with healing.

"I'm actually probably more active now than I was even before, and even though they're different breasts, they don't get in my way and I can still do everything athletically," said Shirley.

Following her surgery, Shirley was out paddling with breast cancer survivors.

And Rachel writes a blog called Ticking Time Bombs to help inspire women to do their research and make a decision that's right for them.

"There's life after breast cancer. There's life after reconstruction," said Shirley.

Both were to take part in Wednesday's BRA Day 2013 at UCLA. Surgeons, other experts and a mini health fair will be a part of the activities.

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