Cancer survivors, local businesses partner for breast cancer reconstruction awareness

June 11, 2021

SIU Medicine is bringing back BRA Day to central Illinois with an in-person event Friday, June 18 at Danenberger Family Vineyards; the owner of the vineyard is a stage-four metastatic breast cancer survivor and thriver.

The Institute for Plastic Surgery at SIU Medicine is hosting a panel discussion featuring local SIU Medicine patients and cancer survivors, with the help of two cancer celebrities.

The event begins at 6 p.m. at Danenberger Family Vineyards, 12341 Irish Rd., New Berlin. Join us live in-person at the winery or from the comfort of your home as we stream live on Facebook to hear first-hand from breast cancer patients and learn about breast reconstruction options available to cancer patients.

Special guests Melissa Berry, founder of Cancer Fashionista and podcast star of Dear Cancer, I'm Beautiful, and Dana Donofree, fashion designer and founder of AnaOno, an international intimates clothing line for women with breast cancer, and a breast cancer survivor herself, will be at the venue to guide the discussion. Along with our two guests, the SIU breast cancer patient panel will include Nicole Sommer, MD, and four of her breast reconstruction patients:

  • Susan Danenberger, New Berlin

  • Autumn Kasch, Taylorville

  • Tami Russell, Springfield

  • Janelle Williams, Bloomington

This event is part of the Plastic Surgery Foundation’s tenth annual Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day, which aims to raise awareness and educate women about their post-mastectomy breast cancer care options.
“BRA Day inspires women to know that life beyond breast cancer can be very fulfilling,” said Dr. Sommer, a plastic surgeon at SIU Medicine who specializes in breast reconstruction. “Many women aren’t told and don’t know that breast reconstruction is an option, or that insurance will cover at least part of the cost.”
Breast reconstruction surgery after breast cancer is considered a reconstructive procedure and should be covered by health insurance, regardless of when a woman chooses to undergo reconstructive surgery.  
“Together, we must spread the word to breast cancer patients about their breast reconstruction options,” said Danenberger, who underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2016. “Informing women of their reconstruction options before or at the time of diagnosis is critically important to improving life after breast cancer.”
BRA Day is a collaboration between the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Plastic Surgery Foundation, breast centers, nurse navigators, corporate partners and breast cancer support groups.
To learn about breast reconstruction options, visit  
About SIU Medicine
The mission of SIU School of Medicine is to optimize the health of the people of central and southern Illinois through education, patient care, research and service to the community. SIU Medicine, the health care practice of the school of medicine, includes clinics and offices with more than 300 providers caring for patients throughout the region.
About the Institute for Plastic Surgery at SIU Medicine
The Institute for Plastic Surgery is home to five fellowship-trained plastic surgeons who specialize in breast, burn and cancer reconstructive surgery, hand surgery, microsurgery, cleft lip and palate repair, facial reanimation, extremity reconstruction and cosmetic surgery. Reconstructive plastic surgery strives to restore appearance and function for patients with defects resulting from trauma, infection, tumors, burns, birth defects or disease. Cosmetic or aesthetic plastic surgery is aimed at improving a patient's appearance.
Created at SIU School of Medicine in 1973, the Springfield-based institute has grown to include more than two dozen providers, competitive residency and fellowship programs, a hand surgery and therapy center, and two cosmetic surgery locations. The institute is known nationally and internationally for its work in many areas including microsurgery, hand surgery and therapy, reconstructive surgery, aesthetic surgery, and specialized care in the treatment of burns and problematic wounds.
About the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and Plastic Surgery Foundation
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest plastic surgery specialty organization globally. Founded in 1931, the society is composed of board-certified plastic surgeons that perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
The mission of ASPS is to advance quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. The society advocates for patient safety, such as requiring its members to operate in accredited surgical facilities that have passed rigorous external review of equipment and staffing.
ASPS works in concert with the Plastic Surgery Foundation, founded in 1948, which supports research, international volunteer programs and visiting professor programs. The foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life of patients through research and development by providing invaluable support to the research of plastic surgery sciences through a variety of grant programs.