Several hundred Norwegian women gathered in front of the Norwegian Parliament on Thursday to protest long delays in receiving reconstructive surgery after undergoing a mastectomy. Some of the cancer survivors bared their scarred breasts in protest.
The women are angry that it can take as long as five years or more to receive the reconstructive surgery they think should be a part of their treatment for breast cancer. They’re demanding a government guarantee that the state health care system will follow through with reconstructive surgery within one year.
“What you’re seeing here isn’t our shame, even though many feel ashamed of how they look after a mastectomy,” said Lise Askvik in her address to Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen. “What you’re seeing is what we live with every day, the scars of our battle against cancer. These scars give us pain, physical, psychological and emotional. We’re demanding nothing more than to have our treatment completed, which Members of Parliament can provide for by voting in favour of a breast reconstruction guarantee.”
Around 4,000 women are on waiting lists in Norway for reconstructive surgery, but parliament, in which the government coalition parties have a majority, voted against guaranteeing to provide it within a certain time frame. MPs from the government parties preferred to wait until completion of a health ministry study into how they can best deal with the backlog. It’s due on March 20. The women, meanwhile, vowed not to give up their campaign.
Views and News staff