How a Grant from the AiRS Foundation Healed One Woman

If you have wondered whether a grant for breast reconstruction from the AiRS Foundation helps cancer survivors heal, don’t just take it from us. Hear from one of our grant recipients, Shannon Howden, who was interviewed by The Dallas Morning News about her experience with reconstruction.

This is her story:

Howden, who received breast implants in her early 20s, was 40 when she began experiencing recurrent swelling in her right breast. Immediately she scheduled a visit with her doctor. But when her doctor was unable to determine the cause of the swelling, to be on the safe side, she opted to have the swollen implant removed and run some additional tests.

That’s when doctors detected cancer in her breast. Howden’s life was transformed overnight as she began six months of cancer treatment.

Even though Howden had health insurance, her insurer would not cover reconstruction after she beat cancer because technically she never had a mastectomy. Thus, Howden became one of many women whose health insurance did not fully cover breast reconstruction after cancer treatment.

“I didn’t feel like a woman anymore,” says Howden.

Before her cancer diagnosis, she was a bodybuilder and a model. After, she rarely left the house.

“You don’t want to tell everybody you’re missing a breast,” says Howden. “…it just totally changed my life.”

That’s when her doctor recommended she seek financial help from the AiRS Foundation. AiRS helps women who have had one or both breasts removed because of breast cancer pay for reconstructive surgery. Not only did AiRS pay for the reconstruction of her right breast, they also paid for a reduction of her left breast to make them symmetrical.

Now, Howden is one of a number of women who feel whole again after reconstruction. Breast reconstruction isn’t for everyone, but it can play an essential part toward psychological and physical healing after breast cancer.

“I’d like to get back on stage at least one more time since I’ve been reconstructed,” says Howden. “After everything I’ve been through…just to say, ‘look, I did it.’”

Do you know someone who could benefit from an AiRS grant?

Let us know! We serve women from all socioeconomic backgrounds in need of financial assistance for reconstruction. Applying for a grant is easy. So is referring a friend. You don’t have to heal alone — let us help! It’s what we’re here for!