09:20 AM

Glacier View Plastic Surgery Awarded Grant to Help Breast Cancer Survivors

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. From the start of the diagnosis comes a varying barrage of decisions, both critical and deeply personal. For many, once they have made it to the point of reconstruction, they are entering into the final chapter of their battle.

Michelle Spring, MD and Michael Hromadka, MD, plastic surgeons at Glacier View Plastic Surgery, work alongside Melissa Kaptanian, MD, surgical oncologist at Kalispell Regional Healthcare, to perform breast reconstruction procedures for cancer patients. Although patients are well cared for by the highly-skilled surgeons and the dedicated Bass Breast team, re-attachment of the nipple is not usually an option by the time the last surgery is performed. In select locations, there is an emerging art of restorative, hyper-realistic, nipple tattooing available to breast cancer survivors. Unfortunately, this type of skilled artisan is difficult to find near the Flathead Valley.

Jenny Masa, clinic manager at Glacier View Plastic Surgery, recognized the need to bring a sense of wholeness back to these women who may not otherwise have the means to travel and seek out these artists on their own. Masa worked with Muffie Thomson of KRH’s Save a Sister program, to apply for a grant through the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgery Foundation. This grant would enable Glacier View Plastic Surgery to bring in a specialized tattoo artist and give local patients the opportunity to embark on that final step in the healing process.

Because it is such a personal decision for patients, the choice to get a tattoo is described as an emotional way of healing. To not have a piece of ones anatomy, and to catch glimpses of that on a daily basis, can be a constant reminder of the struggle and pain that had been previously endured. Having the tattoo completed helps many to feel as though their journey through cancer is also complete.

In August of 2020, the grant was awarded and the option is now available to Flathead Valley patients. Glacier View Plastic Surgery will be bringing in Eric Eye, of Eric Eye Tattoo. He is based out of Seattle, WA and specializes in this type of restorative cosmetic tattoo. Eye will be at the clinic to give selected breast cancer survivors the opportunity to complete their restoration, all expenses paid. Any others who wish to have the procedure completed, but don’t qualify for charity care, will still have the opportunity to book a paid appointment with Eye while he is in town. The event was originally planned as a way to celebrate BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day on October 21, 2020. Due to restrictions and risk regarding COVID-19, it has been postponed till the spring of 2021.