To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Our Bodies, Ourselves, an international women’s health organization that distills health information to help women make informed decisions about their bodies, asked filmmaker Carol Ciancutti to make a short film about the choices women have for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. In response, Ms. Ciancutti interviewed Dr. Chen and a number of her patients, aka the "Bosom Buddies,” about their experiences with breast reconstruction to help guide other women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of women’s healthcare.
The result of this project is the following film, in which every woman has an important story to tell - whether she has undergone implant-based breast reconstruction and/or natural tissue breast reconstruction. We learn that it is essential for women to hear from other women so that each woman can examine all the reconstructive options available to her. Each woman should be empowered to make educated decisions about her own body, because there is no cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all solution for everybody.
a message from the filmmaker:
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes every October. Many of us have mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends that have been diagnosed this past year with breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. With that diagnosis comes many choices about treatment, mastectomy and options for breast reconstruction.
The organization, Our Bodies Ourselves (www.ourbodiesourselves.org), has been at the forefront of women’s health issues for over four decades. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, OBOS asked me to make a short film about the choices women have for reconstruction post mastectomy. It may be surprising to know that seven of out of ten women eligible for breast reconstruction are not being informed of all their options for reconstruction. Nor do many women know that as of 1998, the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act gives women the option to have any type of breast reconstruction they choose and their insurance company is required by this act to pay for it.
I hope this short piece can inform women of all the choices they have available to them, including no reconstruction. Informed Consent is key to being in charge of our health.
Many thanks to Our Bodies Ourselves, Dr. Constance Chen and her wonderful patients for making this project possible!
Your Body Your Rights, Producer/Director”
WHAT IS OUR BODIES, OURSELVES?
In 1970, a group of women in the Boston area self-published “Women and Their Bodies,” a 193-page booklet that dared to address sexuality and reproductive health, including abortion. They distributed it for 75 cents. A year later, they changed the title to “Our Bodies, Ourselves” — and changed the women’s health movement around the world. The U.S. book was updated continuously in print through 2011 and online until 2018, while global adaptions are still in development today. We invite you to learn more about OBOS’s influence, impact, and ongoing advocacy work.
Who are the Bosom Buddies?
For many years, Dr. Chen’s patients have asked for a way to give back to other women with and without breast cancer who are on a journey to restore their breasts and bodies. The #BosomBuddies are a sisterhood of Dr. Chen’s current and former patients committed to helping other patients make their way back to health.
The #BosomBuddies provide each other with emotional support, practical tips, shared stories, and other types of real life assistance to help all patients feel more comfortable and safe. We provide space for patients to periodically meet and discover new information about breast cancer and breast reconstruction treatments, share experiences, give back to the community, and just be present to support each other. In the process, we also manage to have a lot of fun!