On Friday, October 19, 2012, guests gathered at the elegant Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for ForeverFemme, a fundraiser for breast cancer reconstruction awareness and patient financial assistance. Hosted by Suzanne Whang, the award-winning actress, comedienne and host of the HGTV series House Hunters, herself a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor, the event also featured a musical performance by singer songwriter Alissa Griffith.
In her opening remarks, Whang stated that “post breast cancer reconstructive surgery has a tremendous impact in restoring a woman’s positive self image and well-being but research reveals that 70% of women who would have opted for reconstructive still do not know their options.” It is for this reason that Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day was established in 2011. Whang also explained that, although there is legislation that requires insurance companies to pay for reconstructive surgery, that legislation excludes deductible or co-pay costs and also does not cover any expenses incurred during recovery time, which can be up to 9 months post surgery.
Chairman of the event, Dr. Michael K. Obeng (or “Dr. O”) is a Harvard-trained board certified plastic surgeon and founder of RESTORE seeks to help breast reconstruction patients through a unique initiative. An extension of BRA Day and in partnership with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Forever Femme contributes 50% of the money raised at the event to the Plastic Surgeons Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund that helps to raise awareness about reconstruction options and the other 50% helps women in the community offset the costs of insurance deductibles and other expenses during their post-reconstruction recovery period. As a collaborative effort between the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The Plastic Surgery Foundation and breast cancer support groups and patients, events will take place around the country on BRA Day USA including lectures, advertising campaigns, activities and fundraising parties like Forever Femme.
Beth Brokaw, Honorary Chair of the event and author of the New York Times bestseller Fortytude: Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life—through the 40s, 50s and Beyond introduced an inspirational cancer survivor from Atlanta named Beth Borden-Goodman, who said, “You being here this evening is imperative for those who are not aware of their options.” In celebration of the first annual BRA Day USA, Borden-Goodman along with four other breast reconstruction patients will receive the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity award from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) during ASPS' annual conference on October 26th in New Orleans. Proudly celebrating her 5-year “cancerversary” Borden-Goodman stated, “I’ve been blessed with breast cancer to be a blessing to others.”
The name of Dr. O’s organization RESTORE is an acronym for Restoring Emotional Stability Through Outstanding Reconstructive Efforts. In a video about the organization which was shown at the event, Dr. O said he “hopes RESTORE will grow bigger and bigger and be able to reach more hearts, touch more souls and restore more lives” and, with events like ForeverFemme, he is well on his way to seeing that happen.