Denim Day: A fight against breast cancer

This is to document our surgical clinic's participation in the fight against breast cancer by supporting Lee National Denim Day on Friday, October 6. Give $5, wear denim and a pink bow lapel pin to work, and support the Entertainment Industry Foundation's Women's Cancer Programs.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


In order for me to tell you why we are involved with the Lee National Denim Day, you must understand our background.

We are a general surgery practice in a blue collar town. The surgeon was trained in surgical oncology and is considered a 'surgeon's surgeon.' The practice is a rarity -- a solo practice. Four employees, one surgeon. Often we bring our kids to work. Small, but busy. The patients? A lot of them will say when we ask how they are that they're 'just getting by.' They come from all over: San Gabriel Valley, Los Angeles, Long Beach, East Los Angeles, Orange County, even from out of state. There is no shortage of the sick.

We see all sorts of cancer, but breast cancer is a cause close to our heart. Every day, we see patients with breast masses. Some lumps are benign, but many aren't and these are the women and men who hear those dreaded words, "breast cancer." How many lives are changed in the course of a visit to our office, we can't count. But we are with them through the initial biopsy, the surgery, the port placement, the post operative visits and more surgeries if they are needed. We get to know the patient, their family and their friends. We help them through their anguish, sometimes we are at the receiving end of their anger, and through it all we hope they understand that we care. The ones that hit us the hardest are the ones with a family history of breast cancer, and they have small children. Is our involvement in this campaign personal? You betcha.

The best words the doctor ever heard to describe cancer came from a patient. "Cancer's a thief," he said. "It steals your time, it steals your peace of mind, it steals your life."

Our involvement started when our front office and billing coordinator Kaity Marie brought in the packet of information about Denim Day. Kaity has many years of experience in clinics and hospitals, and she's raised money for this cause before. After looking through the materials, the decision was swift and immediate. (I must admit, having large posters of Pierce Brosnan didn't hurt either. I was especially pleased to see him as the Ambassador this year. He lost his first wife Cassie to ovarian cancer. Since then he's raised a lot of money for women's health along with his present and very lovely wife Keely). I wrote a letter to many other medical practices asking them to take part. Each office received a personal invitation from us, as well as copies of the materials sent by the Lee National Denim Day team. Note: this is ALL before noon!

We decided to take lunch and go to Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital and their Patricia L. Scheifly Breast Health Center, and spoke to Debbie, a certified prosthesis fitter, who runs the Mariposa Boutique for women who have undergone mastectomies. The shop has everything from scarves, hats, lingerie, knick knacks and camisoles to wear after the mastectomy and during the radiation treatments and breast prosthesis. Debbie took a prothesis and slapped it onto my hand. I turned it upside down, rightside up. It stuck! She showed us post-surgery camisoles with pads for post-surgery drainage, and shows us bras just for mastectomy patients. "They have very pretty matching underwear," she said. I guess it's a female thing, but a matching bra and panty really does make a woman feel prettier. We were impressed with the knowledge and commitment of the staff. Rosa, Kaity and I chose our shirts. We got one for Amy, too. "You Go Girl! is on the front with the pink breast cancer bow logo.

Even though the pink shirt isn't part of the Lee National Denim Day, we made a choice: Every Friday is breast cancer awareness day in our office. We have far too many patients with breast lumps and also cancer. It's time we showed them our support. How easy it is just by wearing denim and pink.