PRMA Support Spotlight: BRAVE Coalition
In continuation on our weekly Support Spotlight, we are honored to spotlight the BRAVE Coalition!
In our interview, we were joined with Christine from BRAVE. Catch the replay here!
What is the BRAVE Coalition?
BRAVE is a 501 (c)(3) it has been around 9 years. I use to be in charge of breast implants at one of the manufacturers, and I learned that so many surgeons couldn’t get the reimbursement that they needed, so some of them were forced to leave reconstruction. BRAVE stands for Breast Restoration Advocacy and Education. The reason we say restoration and not reconstruction is, we just want to get women to board certified plastic surgeons, like PRMA is, and make sure they have the conversation of “Okay I am getting a mastectomy, what are my options?” Do I want to have reconstruction; do I want prosthetic? You know the Women’s Healthcare Cancer Act of 1998 states that a woman is entitled to reconstruction, but if they don’t necessarily know to go see doctors, like at PRMA, they will never get reconstructed.
How did BRAVE get started?
Myself and Dr. Gabriel, I know many people know Dr. Gabriel, up in Portland. He and I decided to come up with this because there was nothing else like it. He has met with places like Susan Komen and they are very good organizations, but they are not focused on after the cancer is gone, what next. So, it has been hard Courtney, 9 years and I have put of my own resources into it because I felt strongly that women needed to have options. We finally were really moving into the next segment this past march, we had news briefing in New York City. We had several doctors ready to be there, we had all the media there, because the media is very interested in women not getting reconstructed, and it was the week of the big COVID-19 hit in NY. So that kind of set us back a little bit, but we are hanging in there. We just finished Mentor Johnson & Johnson just finished last night “donate a photo” with us. So for 90 days we have had women and men donating photos, so we got to 300 photos short of our 15,000 goal. So we brought in some money last night which will help women.
What is your organization doing right now to help the breast reconstruction community?
A few things, we are about to publish a paper. We did a survey with plastic surgeons and found that there is over 30% leaving reconstruction because they cannot get insured. So we are trying to work to build the advocacy to get insurers to pay for the reconstruction. Otherwise you know, women won’t have options. We are also partnering with doctors like the doctors from PRMA, we are doing a lot of little videos like this, talking about how to safe during COVID, if you are immune suppressed what types of specific things to do. So we are doing a lot of education, and we are also, any time a woman calls us. A woman called us about a month ago and said her surgeon said they had to take her nipples off, well I am no surgeon but I said okay well is the cancer there? I am no surgeon but I asked questions, I called Dr. Chrysopoulo who is on our medical advisory board, and a few other doctors. So I called and I sent her to another surgeon, and he didn’t take her nipples off. So we are kind of a triage, if you will, around the country for women and men if they need help.
How can women who are interested in reconstruction and want to reach out to you as a resource contact you?
They can go to our website, it is bravecoalition.org, and you will see our medical advisory board on there. You will see our board “together” and then we also have a YouTube channel with a lot of videos. They can also email us and we will get back to them the very same day at Info@Bravecoalition.org.
BRAVE stands for Breast Restoration Advocacy and Education. The organization has been supporting women seeking options for reconstruction following breast cancer surgery for the past 9 years.