We have heard a lot about breast cancer prevention and treatment, but there is a component that is not spoken about as often – the physical and emotional impact that comes with the loss of a woman’s breasts for the treatment or prevention of cancer. Dr. Ron Israeli of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, P.C., in Great Neck, N.Y., is a plastic surgeon, as well as a sculptor, who developed a project called Breast Reconstruction – Restoring Wholeness, for which he made life-size sculptures of six of his patients.
The exhibit serves as a three-dimensional reflection of the transformation a woman’s body goes through after a mastectomy and breast reconstruction and speaks to the weight of this type of surgery.
It is clear that Dr. Israeli cares about the entire patient, and through his work he attempts to make whole what disease has torn apart. One of those patients is Lucienne Colombo, a breast cancer survivor whose zest for life is contagious. Colombo had just become a conductor on the Long Island Railroad and was focused on her new house, and possibly meeting someone special. All of that changed when she was told, “You have cancer.”
“Now all of the sudden they have to make decisions, important decisions, real decisions, under-fire, there is s sense of urgency and there is a fear,” Dr. Israeli explains in a powerful short documentary produced by Mediastorm.
Through his surgery and his sculptures, Dr. Israeli tries to quell that fear by not only rebuilding a woman’s physical body, but by also working to give those at the beginning of the process hope that they will be whole – and his work has the ability to turn something very painful into a beautiful piece of art.