Pioneers in Flat Advocacy: Jersi Baker

Pioneers in Flat Advocacy

A blog series designed to highlight and amplify the voices of the flat advocates who blazed the trail and laid the foundation for those that followed.

Jersi Baker

Angela “Jersi” Baker of North Carolina was just 32 years old at her original diagnosis (stage 0). She had a single mastectomy with implant reconstruction. Eight years later she progressed to stage IV. Jersi founded her nonprofit, Angel In Disguise Inc., in 2015, to provide transportation assistance and support for local residents in who are undergoing cancer treatment. Jersi is active with several organizations that advocate, promote awareness, and provide support for women of color facing breast cancer, including TigerLily Foundation, SISTA Survivor, and BreastofUs. In 2016, Jersi decided to explant and go flat. She has modeled for the AnaOno and #Cancerland in their annual fashion show benefiting Metavivor.

When you were making your reconstructive choice, how did you end up choosing flat?

“When I was making my decision I actually didn’t really think about being flat, as much as I was thinking about explanting. Once I decided to explant, I realized that wow, now I am going to only have one breast. But I didn’t care, I just knew I wanted that implant out and I would deal with the rest later.”

How has your surgical result affected your healing process moving forward?

“The healing process was easy, although my skin is thin. It was the best decision that I made for my body and eliminated all of the discomfort from previously having an implant.”

How did you decide that you wanted to be an advocate?

“Once I decided to apply for disability, sitting at home and doing nothing wasn’t an option, and I knew there were people who needed my help. I began to get involved by starting my own nonprofit organization, Angel in Disguise Inc., and started attending more conferences to become more involved. That is when I saw all the opportunities to get involved.”

What is your proudest accomplishment as an advocate?

“Starting my nonprofit organization, and although we have never received a grant and operate on donations I understand the importance of this work and will NOT STOP! My voice is being heard.”

What has been your biggest challenge as an advocate?

“Funding for my nonprofit. Getting a seat at the table.”

What have you learned as an advocate that you would like other advocates to know?

“That using your voice whenever you get the opportunity is key and don’t worry how others perceive you, if you speak loud and proud you will be heard. #avoiceforthevoiceless”

What is your vision for flat advocacy generally? What do you want the future to look like for women going flat?

“To let others know that it is an option. Being flat is not taboo. Being flat as an option should be included in all reconstruction conversations with your oncology team, as well as options available for when someone doesn’t want to appear flat in their clothing.”

A pioneer may start as a lone voice in the wilderness, but their passion for and commitment to their cause inspires others to join them. This has led to exponential growth in the field of flat advocacy over the last decade or so. In 2020, we have flat photography projects, full length memoirs, nonprofit organizations, communities on social media, and even gatherings across the world… all made possible by the work of the advocates who blazed the trail.

If you know of a pioneer in flat advocacy that you’d like to see featured, please let us know!

Disclaimer: Any and all information published by Not Putting on a Shirt (NPOAS) on behalf of a third party is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute for medical or legal advice from a licensed professional. Views expressed and claims made by third parties do not necessarily represent the views of NPOAS.

Published by Not Putting on a Shirt

Founder of Not Putting on a Shirt, a mastectomy patients' rights organization that advocates for optimal surgical outcomes for patients going flat.

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