Sunday, June 24, 2012

Breast cancer survivor OK?d for topless swim - Fri, 22 Jun 2012 PST

June 22, 2012 in Health, Region

Manuel Valdes Associated Press

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Jodi Jaecks, 47, pressed for months to swim topless in a city pool after her double mastectomy made wearing swim tops painful. The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department has decided to allow Jaecks to swim topless in a public pool. Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams says there?s nothing to alarm the public, so the department decided to make an exception to its dress policy for public?pools.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE ? A Seattle breast cancer survivor whose breasts were surgically removed has gained the permission to swim topless at a city?pool.

But Jodi Jaecks, 47, wants to make sure her privilege is also extended to other breast cancer survivors who want to swim?comfortably.

?Initially when I heard about the reversal, I was elated. Then it came that it wasn?t a policy change, it was just an exception for me. Then I was quite deflated. It seemed like it was a reaction that it was just meant to appease me,? Jaecks said?Thursday.

Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams announced Wednesday that he was giving Jaecks an exception to the department?s clothing?policy.

?Our original concern stems from our responsibility to accommodate the needs of all our patrons. In this case, I see nothing that might alarm the public,? Williams said in a statement. He was reacting to an article about Jaecks that was published in the Stranger weekly newspaper, which also ran a picture of her?topless.

Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter said Thursday that Williams has decided to create a committee made up of cancer survivors, parks staff, King County health representatives and others to come up with a new?policy.

Until a new policy is written, Williams will review on a case-by-case basis requests from people who have had surgery and want to?swim.

After enduring two surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy and the surgical removal of both her breasts in March 2011, Jaecks wanted to turn to swimming to regain her strength. But swimsuit tops proved too uncomfortable, and nerves on her chest remained tender, Jaecks?said.

So she asked the manager at her city pool if she could swim topless this past March. Eventually, she heard from the head of the aquatics department, who told her she?couldn?t.

?And that?s when they said it was a policy that they required gender-appropriate clothing ? regardless if I had nipples or whatever,? Jaecks?said.

Potter said pool staff was following city policy. But she said it was ?unfortunate? the issue didn?t get to Williams? attention until?now.

She is planning a swim Monday. Her exception extends only to adult lap?hours.

She plans to meet with Williams next week and ask that her exception be extended to anyone who survived breast cancer. Jaecks said cancer patients shouldn?t be made to feel self-conscious by having to ask for special?permission.

? Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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