Ashna Parbhakar

This piece that I drew is about a breast cancer patient that I encountered on my one week in the breast cancer surgical team on general surgery. This picture represents a female who had a right mastectomy with a new mass noticed in her contralateral breast. This symbolized the body dysmorphia and self image insecurities that these women face. Many of these patients that I talked with discussed how they felt embarrassed and guilty about these feelings because they felt like they should be happy that they are cancer free. When working with the surgical team, I found that these feelings were validated and time was taken to comfort and empathize with the patients while providing them support. This strengthened the doctor-patient relationship and just by validating someone’s feelings and emotions goes a long way. These women felt empowered after these discussions and glad that these discussions were happening. They even appreciated that the surgeons took extra care in creating a cosmetic outcome for them whether it is a discrete incision or for future reconstruction consideration. This taught me to always listen to my patients, give time for them to ask questions, and to validate what they’re going through.