Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day: A tissue recipient’s story of hope and healing

October 2019

Thank you to the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations for sharing Kate’s story

When Kate Kane was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2011, her doctor outlined the options for treatment. Kate’s doctor explained how each course of action would impact her options for reconstruction. Kate’s doctor raised the option of using donated tissue, called an allograft, to act as a resting place for her implant. Kate said, recalling the discussion, “… it seemed that when it was said and done, [using donated tissue] would be a better outcome.”

Kate Kane, breast cancer survivor and tissue recipient

If 2012 was any indication, it seems Kate was right. After having a bilateral mastectomy in January of that year followed by reconstructive surgery that
March, by that August the physically active Kate was able to pick up where she left off before her diagnosis: biking hundreds of miles for cancer research-something she had trained to do all summer.

Being active is more than just a hobby for Kate; it was her social life. “Part of [breast cancer] is that you have physical healing, but you have a lot of emotional healing. It’s hard to describe the difference,” she said. “To be able to be back to normal – or, a new normal – was huge for me. All of that was because I came back healthy and was able to recover quickly. I’m so grateful that I was able to do that. The cancer didn’t get me and the reconstruction brought me back to my life.”

Kate continued, “Anyone who is thoughtful about checking the box for organ and tissue donation needs to understand that so much of what we have – the tissue that I received – that comes from somebody who has made a sacrifice, who made a decision so that if I no longer can live, then someone else can make use of every single thing that I have,” Kate describes that ability and generosity as “jaw-droppingly awesome,” and she is not wrong.

“My surgery wasn’t life or death,” Kate said, “but it certainly was restorative, and I’m incredibly grateful.”

Generously donated tissue is one of many options available for breast reconstruction surgery and one tissue donor can help up to ten breast reconstruction patients.