Brande Plotnick: Full Speed Ahead
Taking Care of You
Brande is the Director of Nuclear Medicine Marketing at Bracco Diagnostics Inc. After her own diagnosis in 2021, Brande became an advocate for early detection, aesthetic flat closure after mastectomy, and the importance of fitness in thriving after cancer.
Brande lives in the Philadelphia area and works with her local chapter of the American Cancer Society to help educate and inspire others through her own experience and learning.
In November 2020, Brande Plotnick’s mammogram suggested a clean bill of health. For most people, that would have been the end of it. But Brande had her own ideas about what was best for her.
“I wanted to be sure,” said Brande. “So I got an MRI screening and was fortunate to be able to pay the out-of-pocket costs myself. Breast cancer was on my radar because I have a family history. I also have dense breast tissue, which is common among women. Dense breast tissue makes it harder for a mammogram to identify small tumors.” Brande’s MRI revealed a tiny 5-millimeter tumor, classified as stage zero breast cancer, or DCIS (the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast).
“I was surprised but relieved I caught it so early.
I began weighing my options.”
“The conservative route and typical protocol is to have surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells, and a 5-year regimen of Tamoxifen. The other option is to have a total mastectomy and, assuming no other cancers are found, bypass radiation, and hormone therapy. It's assumed that a mastectomy will be followed by reconstructive surgery, and my only option would have been breast implants.”
“Reconstructive surgery after mastectomy isn't the same as breast augmentation with implants. It requires multiple surgeries, and the process can take a year or more. Each surgery carries risk. And implants need to be replaced on average every 10 years.
There’s a lot of recovery time—and I’m very active, an athlete, someone who enjoys life so that option didn’t really fit my lifestyle. And breast implants carry health risks and side effects of their own that are well documented.”
Brande started looking into what other women facing these decisions chose to do. She went on vacation to Los Angeles, CA to clear her head and consider her next step.
“It wasn’t until I did some more research that I found a movement and a growing community of women who had skipped reconstruction entirely, choosing instead to have the complete mastectomy as the first and last step—and go flat. It would mean a ‘one and done’ procedure with nothing else involved.”
“I was days away from surgery, and I ended up calling my surgeon from LA and telling her to cancel the plastic surgery portion of the procedure. I asked if she could give me what's called an aesthetic flat closure. She said she could. And she did a beautiful job.”
“What I want women to know is that their bodies are already whole and beautiful—that’s what will carry them through their cancer. Femininity is not tied to your breasts or any one attribute, it’s about your confidence and your spirit.”
Brande sees a bigger issue at play, one that steers women into making certain choices.
“There’s a narrative we must dispel that was created around the perception that we need to make women 'beautiful and whole' again after breast cancer. It is designed to play on women’s basic insecurities about their bodies at a time when they are feeling their most vulnerable. But what I want women to know is that their bodies are already whole and beautiful—that’s what will carry them through their cancer. Femininity is not tied to your breasts or any one attribute, it’s about your confidence and your spirit.”
When she told her Bracco colleagues what she was going through and the decisions she’d made, Brande was overwhelmed by the responses she got. “I’ll never forget it. The outpouring of support still chokes me up to this day. My team gave me all the time and encouragement I needed to recover totally. I feel incredibly grateful and privileged to have that kind of support.”
Today, Brande is moving full speed ahead with her life, including going all out with her workout routine. “I do CrossFit, which combines high-intensity weightlifting like power cleans, deadlifts and snatches with cardio and gymnastics moves like pullups, rope climbs, box jumps, and things like that. Even if CrossFit isn't for you, I encourage everyone to find a fitness routine they can consistently participate in. Work out because you can, not because you have to. My fitness routine is just one of the many ways that I throw love at my body every day.”
The information contained in this article represents Brande’s personal experiences and do not necessarily represent the views of Bracco. No material in this article is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.