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“Drive-through” Mastectomies: Support Breast Cancer Health

“Drive-through” Mastectomies: Support Breast Cancer Health

“Good friends are like good bras: supportive, hard to find, and always close to your heart.”

I remember a friend told me that in high school and I thought about it today when I read about a bill being introduced in Congress in support of women’s, well, breasts.

The bill, the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act, would end the practice of “drive-through” mastectomies which is as bad as it sounds – women being forced to go home only hours after invasive breast cancer surgery often still groggy from the anesthesia and sometimes even with drainage tubes attached to their bodies.

If passed, the bill will require insurance companies, including medicare, to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy instead of the few hours many women today receive after surgery. 

Lifetime Television has posted information about the bill on their site and has gathered over 23 million online signatures in support of women’s health.  They have also listed instructions for advocates to call their Congress representatives to tell them personally to support the bill (Find your representative here and call 202-225-3121 to speak to your representative.).

Lifetime also calls on visitors to share their stories on their online Breast Cancer Survivor community board. Here are some of their horrifying experiences:

“She was released from the hospital with 2 drains only 2.5 hours after her surgery. As soon as she was able to get in the wheel chair the hospital was wheeling her out the door. My mom lives an hour away from the hospital that performed her surgery.”

“I had surgery at 6:00 pm and by 7:00 am the next morning a nurse was telling me to get dressed to go home. I had been up all night stomach sick from the anesthesia and was on extra medication to try and help. I was so groggy that I didn’t even remember what they told me to do with the drainage tubes and dressings.”

“The nurses put me in my car and buckled the safety belt while my teeth were still chattering from the anesthesia. I went home to take care of my 5 year old twins. I ended up with a massive staph infection and was hospitalized for more than two weeks.”

A mastectomy is not like getting your tooth pulled or a mole removed. It is an invasive, serious surgery that removes one or both breasts in order to remove cancerous tissue and/or cells. Discharging patients before they are ready to go home is wholly unjust, not to mention cruel and dangerous. Patients should be required to stay at the hospital to recuperate and be given adequate after care instructions, not pushed out the door frightened and confused.

It’s high time we support women’s breasts and their fight against cancer!

Be a good friend. Or better yet, be a good bra. Act now: Support the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act.

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Photo from myLifetime - http://www.mylifetime.com/my-lifetime-commitment/breast-cancer

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6 comments

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11:09AM PDT on May 28, 2009

Shouldn't there be therapy before and after the surgery? What a horrible loss, this is our sexuality, this is our womanhood. I am not saying that our body is what defines us as women, but I can't imagine not having a breast. Breast Cancer is prevalent in my family and I have seen the issues that women face when looking at themselves in the mirror. I believe that there should be ongoing therapy sessions, support groups and online support for post surgeries.

9:55AM PDT on May 14, 2009

oops I meant to vote no in the poll, sorry about that.
I agree that sounds awful and women should be given the opportunity to recover before being released.

7:18PM PDT on May 13, 2009

After my mastectomy, my surgeon at Kaiser Permanente encouraged me to stay as long as I needed to. I did stay one night, in case I needed the IV for pain. But fortunately, there was no pain and I asked to go home the next morning. I had 2 drainage tubes, which were not hard to take care of at home. I don't think it should ever be a requirement to stay in the hospital, but it is nice to have that choice. Mastectomy is a big deal, but not painful. We all recover better at home. However, women with small children and responsibilities at home should be relieved by friends and family as needed.

4:40PM PDT on May 12, 2009

What are the choises then? We haven´t found any vaccine yet to prevent breast cancer. If you have it, how can you control it?
Chemotherapy or irradiation or....what? Are doctors enjoiying with women´s pain? All of them? Of course mastectomy is a huge surgery, isn´t breast a huge organ?
I might be in the row to it. Mother and sis with breast cancer.

5:13AM PDT on May 12, 2009

Prostate cancer removal is a small operation - breast cancer is a huge operation - ask the doctors which they would prefer! But really, Pat d. is right: where is the Equality?

4:31AM PDT on May 12, 2009

Been there done that 16 years ago!
Think that by this time someone would wake up to this injustice. Husband had prostate cancer removed and was hospitalized 1 week!
Equality:? Where is it?

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