TOPEKA (KSNT) – As Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues, Wednesday marks a day for those dealing with life after beating cancer. Like Rebecca Lantz, who knows all about fighting cancer. Twice she defeated the disease. Then, in April, a third diagnosis, “It was stunning, and yet, I knew something wasn’t right,” says Lantz.

A month later, Lantz had a double mastectomy. Before that surgery, she and her doctor talked about the option of reconstructive surgery

“It was important for me to know why I wanted to do it, why I wanted reconstructive surgery,” says Lantz.

The answer to that question is what doctors and cancer advocates across the nation want cancer survivors to know. Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, BRA for short, is about letting breast cancer survivors understand “that reconstruction is a viable option for almost all patients,” says Dr. Jack Peterson, a plastic surgeon in Topeka.

40 percent of women in the U.S. opt for reconstruction; Dr. Jack Peterson would like to see that number much higher. “The older general surgeons maybe were a little bit reluctant to even bring up the whole reconstruction efforts. Fortunately that’s really changed.”

Reconstruction can use implants, your own tissue or a combination of both. For patients undergoing reconstructive surgery, an expander is what will be placed at the breast site. The device is then filled with saline solution until the breast is a size that fit and implant. Whatever the option, improved self-image is the goal.

Lantz says she did it, “So that I felt more like me; so that I could stop thinking about what I looked like and just be me.” Feeling better about herself and about life… “I just am so grateful to be here at this time and to be able to look forward to a future.”

Peterson says reconstructive surgery is also an option for men. To learn more about BRA Day, click here. For more information about reconstruction options in Topeka, click here.