Enter 2020. A fresh decade. I’m thinking “Back to the Future 2” and all their predictions about 2020 and here we are, still driving our own cars, still with both feet firmly on the ground. There’s a lot to be said about drastic changes and even more about stability and reliability.
For me, 2019 was a year of great changes (a baby, losing my mother, moving offices to name a few) but it was also the first New Year’s Eve where, on introspection, I was able to say that I felt completely secure in myself and content with who I am as a person. Now, there is plenty of growth and self-realization and actualization that needs to happen, obviously, but all in all I feel fulfilled and blessed.
So now I’m looking forward to 2020 and for me, it’s the year to give back. As a woman, a mother, and a surgeon, there are certain groups and issues that resound with me; at the forefront of those are breast cancer survivors.
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Until I breastfed my own child, I have to admit that I honestly thought of breasts as ornamentation. They were merely fat and glandular tissue wrapped in a skin pocket and yes they could look awfully pretty, but we all have them and most of the time they are stuffed into a bra and doing no more than filling a space.
Now that I have felt and seen the soothing and nourishment these same breasts can provide, I can empathize with the patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer and the loss they may feel of their identity as women when their breasts are removed.
What does this have to do with giving back? The core of what I love most about being a plastic surgeon is that by definition, what we do is restore. We take the defects that are left after the disease has been taken out and we restore shape and function. We bring patients back to normal.
ReShaping Lives California is a non for profit organization that I have been involved with for the past three years. Started in 2016 as the local chapter of Mission Plasticos, we strive to provide breast reconstruction (and other reconstructive surgeries) to uninsured or underinsured patients in California.
“I had a botched surgery in 2018 which left me without a nipple and one breast at a c the other a dd… I was absolutely petrified of going under the knife again. Then I developed BII symptoms and knew that the implants had to come out. I researched dr’s who supported BII -(many surgeons Don’t want to believe it) and I found dr prong who was supportive, kind and understood. I have always struggled with stubborn back fat and a bit of excess in between my thighs so dr Leong removed the implants, did liposuction to my arms sides and thighs and performed a fat transfer to my breasts. I am5 days post op and I cannot believe how amazing I feel. She is the best. I would never go anywhere else and would recommend her to anyone. Xo”*
Mission Plasticos, the parent foundation, is a charity founded by board-certified plastic surgeons to offer reconstructive plastic surgery internationally to populations that have been marginalized and who are unable to access adequate care. More importantly, Mission Plasticos strives to train local surgeons in the management of these populations. Their motto is “Treat Train Transform”.
All of our staff, from doctors to nurses to scrub techs, volunteer their time and expertise to serve these patients. We operate quarterly in surgery centers that donate their facilities and supplies to our foundation. We are all united by one purpose – to provide for these patients the same care that any person deserves. In the case of breast reconstruction, we restore for these women their femininity and self-confidence and take away the daily reminder of the breast cancer that they survived. It has been life-changing for these women.
I’d like to share with you one of our patients’ personal experiences, she does it better than I ever could. And if you’re as moved by her as I am, there are ways to get involved with ReShaping Lives and Mission Plasticos. Take a look at the video and join me, I promise that giving back will never feel as meaningful. 2020! It’s going to be an amazing year and an even better decade. Let’s do it together!
For additional information about the Plasticos Foundation see the link below.