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Breast Cancer Survivors Urged to Embrace Breast Reconstruction

Survivors of breast cancer have been encouraged to embrace breast reconstruction procedures that will enable them to regain their confidence and bring back a semblance of normalcy to their lives.

Speaking during a reconstruction surgery workshop at the Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital (KUTRRH), where local and international medical experts converged to share knowledge on the process, hospital board chairperson Prof. Olive Mugenda said the rare reconstructive surgical procedure will see women who had lost their breasts to cancer acquire a new lease of life after having the organ reconstructed locally at the hospital.

“At least ten women will undergo the procedure at our facility this week. We recognise that the reconstruction process is costly, but it is necessary as it will help the survivors overcome the stigma that comes with living without the organ(s), which ultimately affects the quality of their lives.”

“We call upon the government and insurers to consider a financial plan that will help survivors offset the medical bills that come with the reconstruction process. The procedure is not as cosmetic as some would believe. It is however a key recovery factor for most breast cancer patients that are in remission,” Prof Mugenda said.

Speaking to KNA, Dr. Andrew Were, a plastic reconstructive surgeon at KUTRRH, noted that out of 80,000 cases screened for cancer at the facility since 2020, 2,500 were diagnosed with breast cancer, with a majority presenting with stage 3 and 4 cancer that necessitated the need for mastectomy.

“Most of the women do not know what to do after the surgery as they do not have the know-how or resources. As one of the leading cancer centers in the country, we decided to find ways to help them recover both physically and emotionally by introducing breast reconstructive surgery.”

“We have brought in medical experts from the Harvard Medical School in America, the Canadian Plastic Surgery Association, and their Argentinian counterparts who will team up with local doctors in conducting the surgeries,” Dr. Were said.

He noted that a majority of Kenyans do not avail themselves of early cancer screenings that could potentially help to avoid situations where people are diagnosed with the disease in its late stages when chances of survival are slim to none.

He added that there were cases where young patients that were diagnosed with cancer opted to take their chances with the disease for fear of mastectomy and the challenges that come with it, a decision that has made many succumb to the disease.

Dr. Frederico Flaherty from Argentina present at the workshop lauded the reconstruction initiative adding that it was no longer a want but a need that would go a long way in giving breast cancer survivors a second chance at life.

By Hellen Lunalo

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