Breast cancer affects everyone.
About 12% of women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime and another 4% have to deal with noninvasive or “in situ” cancer. There were almost 200,000 new invasive breast cancer patients diagnosed in 2008. 2.5 million breast cancer survivors live in the United States but over 40 thousand American women died from breast cancer in 2009.
If you do not have breast cancer then one of your relatives, fellow employees, or neighbors have been affected by it. It is so emotional because it distorts the women’s body image, affects interpersonal relationships, and also can be passed from generation to generation.
Why Dr. Francel
There are many specialists and institutions who “take on” breast cancer diagnosis and treatments. There are far fewer that counsel the patient emotionally during treatments and help them prepare for the future after therapies. This includes helping the patients deal with the visible changes during cancer treatments (e.g. hair loss, skin changes, nail deformities, loss of eyelashes, mouth and teeth changes).
One of the reasons Dr. Francel was drawn to plastic surgery was the ability to help women diagnosed with breast cancer. During his general surgery training he was able to experience firsthand the advantage of a breast reconstruction for a woman undergoing a mastectomy. The patients undergoing the reconstruction felt excitement and looked forward to the prospect of “new” replacing the old. These patients felt that it would be easier to deal with the cancer if they knew they could return to a positive body image after reconstruction. They could better tolerate the treatments knowing the cancer was gone and the new breast was taking form.
As a reconstructive surgeon Dr. Francel follows his patients for over a year. From the start he counsels them – it is going to take one year before they have their life back but it will never be the same. They will have a new and greater perspective on life after going through the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.
There will be many lives to touch and they may save someone by their example, concern and encouragement. Our office helps throughout the year by referring patients where to get the best wigs and how to treat dry chemo skin. We are sensitive to “chemo brain” changes and growing out eyelashes and we assist the patients as much as possible as they go through chemo induced menopause.
We have many of our own patients who are willing to help others make it through the year of treatment and even help after all the other doctors are gone:
Dr Francel…throughout this year of cancer you have been the one constant physician who has helped educate and inform me to make those tough decisions along the way. Thank you for all that you have done for us and we wish to do the same for others. We would like to thank you with a fine red wine for a very respected physician and surgeon.” –Gina and Steve
Dr. Francel performs charity work through the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Clinic at Mercy Hospital as well as the Gateway to Hope. Through these institutions he performs breast reconstructions for those patients unable to pay for their reconstruction after undergoing a mastectomy for breast cancer.
One of our patients started The Daisy Project to support breast cancer research especially “triple negative” disease. She “continues to live life fully, appreciating the positive things in her life rather than dwelling on the challenges that come with breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
Another of our patients started “Art as Healing” to give cancer patients an opportunity for self expression through art. This provides a creative outlet for conveying complex emotions associated with having cancer.