Mastectomy: Challenging, but rewarding

Sunday, October 31, 2010

YARMOUTH, Maine - Despite the challenges of providing mastectomy products and services, women's health providers say the rewards of the job make it worthwhile.

Provider Tracey Dettmer recently fitted a customer with her first breast form--10 years after her mastectomy. The reason: She needed a dress for her daughter's wedding.

"She came in and it was 98 degrees outside and she had a cardigan sweater on and was all hunched over," said Dettmer, director of sales and marketing for Warren, Mich.-based Binson's. "When she left here, she had her sweater over her arm, her shoulders back and a great big smile on her face."

Filling the void

Provider Cheryl Pritchard says one of the biggest "voids" in the mastectomy business is that people don't know that insurance pays for post-mastectomy products--including doctors.

"That's the biggest misconception for them," said Pritchard, CEO of Portland, Maine-based A Special Place. "They (look at the surgical site) and say, 'It's beautiful.' There's a big gap between what they see and (how the patient feels)."

Pritchard conducts regular in-services to try and bridge that gap. She's seen the difference access to appropriate bras and breast forms makes.

"I'll see my patients a year later in the community," said Pritchard. "They're confident and living their lives."