Meet Our Advisors
Our Advisory Council consists of leaders in the professional community who have generously donated their time and expertise to advise the “Not Putting on a Shirt” Board of Directors. We sat down with them to talk about who they are and why they support aesthetic flat closure.
Rep. Charen Fegard (D-VT)
Charen Fegard of Berkshire, Franklin County, Democrat, was born on Howard Air Force Base in Panama. She lived in many states and countries growing up and through her twenties. Charen earned a Bachelors degree in Biology from the University of NC at Wilmington. She has worked in the Civil Service in Hazardous Materials/ Environmental Compliance on overseas military bases, and has owned and operated a registered home daycare as well as landscaping and cleaning businesses.
Charen worked for a variety of non-profits in Vermont over the years. Before starting the legislative session, she volunteered on the Richford Restorative Justice Panel. Currently, she consults for non-profits and waste municipalities throughout Vermont regarding recycling, composting, and Indoor Air Quality related to cleaning chemicals. She raises meat birds, sheep, laying hens, a lot of vegetables, and enjoys deer hunting with her husband, Russ Ford. They have 4 children in their blended family.
Rep. Fegard is a long-time strong supporter and strategist in her work with NPOAS. She spearheaded the 2019 legislation in Vermont that would require stakeholders to convene and ensure insurance coverage for revision surgery. Thank you, Rep. Fegard, for your help as we work together to #putflatonthemenu!
Tell us about your work and how aesthetic flat closure came on your radar screen.
“I have so many different types of jobs, from Civil Service work in Haz-Mat/Environmental Compliance on overseas military bases, administrative work, registered childcare, professional landscaping and cleaning, outreach and education and technical assistance to schools and businesses around Indoor Air Quality and waste diversion. But 2019-2020 I have been a House Representative in Vermont’s Legislature. I was diagnosed BRCA-1 positive and had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy in 2016. I knew from the moment of my test results that I was committed to limiting surgical injury and risk of complication and infection by not having reconstruction. I was lucky. My breast surgeon was skilled in patient education and surgery. My results were excellent. Later, I learned of other women choosing flat and that many were not as lucky as I was.”
What do you think patients facing breast cancer surgery should know about “going flat”?
“Breast cancer patients deserve to know all their options in unbiased, full disclosure. Patients should be made aware of the stark differences in surgery time, in-patient hospitalization time, pain medication expectations and general recovery time between the different reconstructions and aesthetic flat closure. Their surgeon should also be upfront about their skill in flat closure.”
What do you think providers should know about aesthetic flat closure?
“Providers need to know that AFC is a valuable medical treatment that, when done well, allows women to minimize their surgical injury, feel authentic and quickly get back to living their lives with dignity in a body that is fully functional.”
In your view, what are the most important barriers to parity for aesthetic flat closure and how should we address them?
“Lack of patient education, lack of support by medical staff play roles in dissuading patients from choosing AFC. This is true for women facing mastectomy as well as women who want to explant their breast implants from problematic reconstruction. After the initial surgery, if the surgical outcome is unsatisfactory, providers need to educate patients about clean-up options. Sometimes insurers may balk at the clean up procedure and miscode it as ‘cosmetic’ instead of reconstructive.”
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.