Since I was very little, I knew that I wanted to be a physician–specifically, a surgeon. When I was in Poland in kindergarten, our teacher asked us to draw ourselves when we grew up. I drew myself in a hospital room, at a patient’s bedside, in mask and gown. With my toys as patients, I was preparing to cure the world–a toy doll was sick with measles, only to be cured moments later, a stuffed koala bear was “operated” on in various ways.
From a very young age, I was groomed to do nothing else. My mother is an oral surgeon, and having studied in Europe, her approach is holistic. I assumed that all doctors looked at their patients as an entire unit, amenable by input and environment. I believed that all physicians used herbs as easily as medications. In United States’ mainstream medicine, I was in for a rude awakening. It was not until late into my college career that I found out about osteopathy. At that point, everything made sense–I would treat the whole patient. I would be able to rely on my hands equally, if not more than, medications. In this way, I could help the patient with the ability to heal themselves inwardly. My training in osteopathy has been a solid foundation for my approach to the patient’s physical, mental and spiritual health.
I did realize my dream of being a surgeon. I went to medical school and then moved to Manhattan, New York, for my surgical residency. Initially, I thought that I would be a trauma surgeon. I loved the high of being in that environment, where everything is fast paced and truly life or death. I loved the feeling of being in charge of a room; the endorphin rush was amazing. I loved helping people in extremis.
Then, I assisted a surgery where the patient was the wife of the dear friend of the surgeon in charge. This was one of the first breast surgeries with which I was involved, and the patient had breast cancer. I was expecting that we would do our best. In my mind, this meant not only getting rid of the cancer, but also giving her the best cosmetic result possible.
Unfortunately, the final outcome was quite the opposite. It was horrific, and more of a butcher job than anything else, with an ugly jagged scar and mismatch in the size of the breasts. When I asked the surgeon, “Can’t we do better? Is this really all that we can do?” His abrupt answer was, “I got rid of her cancer. She should be happy.” That was the day that I realized my true passion and calling. I realized that I needed to help women to avoid these kinds of butcher jobs. The surgical program from which I matriculated was a small, not well known program. I decided to pad my resume by then going through advanced training, in a Hand and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship. I worked as a hand surgeon for over three years, never losing sight of my initial calling. I went back and did another Fellowship in Breast Oncoplastic Surgery. Now, here I am.
As I have grown in my medical practice, as well as in the practice of being a good human, I have found that it is important to first practice optimal health, in other words, preventing illness before it sets in. I explain this to my patients on many levels. I do believe that we have an innate ability to heal, in body and emotion. I often talk to patients of optimism, even in the face of cancer, and moving forward. Specifically, I tell them, “This is where you find yourself, now, and all you can do is look to the future. There is no benefit in ‘would have, should have, if only…,what if…’ We are here, and we move forward.”
As a breast surgeon, I deal with many patients with breast carcinoma, or precursors to the same. As a medical community, we know so very little about this disease, but we are constantly learning. There is increasing evidence that lifestyle (and all of its components) although not the only factor, is certainly an added causation of this disease in more cases than not.
Even in 1863, Rudolf Virchow (“the father of pathology”) postulated on the origins of carcinoma, noting that the same irritants which cause inflammation also cause cell proliferation. And what is cancer, if not simple overgrowth of cells with a dysfunctional cell cycle? Chronic inflammation is linked with heavy alcohol use, smoking, subclinical infection, arthritis, major depression, diabetes, and even low socio-economic status. Additionally, there have been studies showing a direct link between breast carcinoma and chronic inflammation. Sometimes, the most basic, obvious solutions are ignored in favor of measurable, scientific data.
As a female surgeon, who has decided to specialize and be able to cover the expertise of three physicians (radiologist, surgeon, reconstructive surgeon), I have faced many challenges. As the only female surgeon in my area and the only Board-Certified, Fellowship-Trained Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon south of Springfield, Illinois, challenges are simply a part of life and work. However, I knew that I would only feel fulfilled if I was practicing in an area of need. I have witnessed, first hand, how Western medicine and lifestyle destroy human bodies. It is my mission to overcome these deficiencies. With my additional studies in integrative medicine, I feel comfortable guiding those interested to a healthier lifestyle.
I have seen many patients with lifestyle diseases who rely solely on medications and/ or surgery. If the lifestyle is not altered, disease continues. Lifestyle diseases cannot be cured without lifestyle changes.
Hello, my name is Dr Hania B Bednarski. I am a Board Certified General Surgeon who is Fellowship Trained in Breast Oncoplastic Surgery. I intensely believe in comprehensive breast care and guiding the patient through the entire journey, whether dealing with breast cancer or benign disease. I am extremely comfortable treating patients of all ages, male and female and am passionate about making sure that my patients are well-informed and treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve while reducing the footprint of surgery. I am always on the forefront of surgical care, performing everything from biopsy to reconstruction, as well as cryoablation, or freezing, for benign and malignant breast disease.
In the last 6 years, I have become increasingly passionate about discussing lifestyle and dietary choices with my patients, as I see that chronic disease is an epidemic. Disease is not an isolated event. I believe that the medical community must stop working to simply “put out fires” (isolated illnesses), but must treat the patient as a whole. Only in treating all aspects of lifestyle will we be able to quell illness. It is my ethical duty as a caregiver to help patients heal themselves. We are learning more and more that nutrition is at the root of most, if not all, diseases. Hippocrates said it best in 431BC: “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Is it possible that our “smart” culture is finally catching on?!
At Prevention vs Detection, we understand that breast cancer diagnosis is an unpleasant surprise, to say the least. Information regarding this family of diseases and its progression is often not available. The information that is present is limited and frequently misleading. We provide a resource where you can ask questions and learn.
When a diagnosis of breast cancer is made, do you know what that means?
When your body knows how to make breast cancer once, it can make it again if you do not make lifestyle modifications. Do you know what are those lifestyle modifications?
Breast cancer is a family of diseases. Did you know that your breast cancer may be very different and differently treated than your mother’s, cousin’s, or neighbor’s down the street?
Breast cancer is not a death sentence, but you need to be smart about your options.
Social media and Dr. Google have made mastectomy mainstream. Did you know that the diagnosis of breast cancer does not necessarily mean having your breast(s) removed?
At Prevention vs Detection, we help you to understand YOUR specific breast cancer type. We provide resources so you can learn about available treatments. We provide guidance to identify and achieve the necessary lifestyle modifications.
The United States healthcare system does not allow physicians to spend the time necessary to educate their patients. This is why most patients end up going to Dr. Google. We bridge the gap between the education that you GET and the education that you MUST HAVE.
Prevention vs Detection is a warm, approachable place where everyone can have a respected, trusted resource to become and stay healthy. We provide concise, simple information and lifestyle guidelines.
Our goal is to become your online resource to help you navigate the complexity of breast cancer. We want you to become an expert in YOU so you can have a normal life again.