FUNKY BRAS AFTER BREAST CANCER
Here is Breast Cancer Nirvana’s information page on bras after breast cancer. Specifically, a) the unique bra requirements and b) how to find lovely, funky bras post breast cancer
1. Breast Cancer Bra Requirements
After breast cancer surgery (often lumpectomy, mastectomy or reconstruction surgery), there may be changes in the types of bras women can wear. This is due to scarring, tender surgery sites or wearing of a shell or prosthesis. These bra changes may be temporary or permanent and some women can continue with exactly the same bras as before.
As every breast cancer, surgery and woman is different, there are no hard and fast rules for bras as preferences are unique to each woman. However, there are some requirements for specific times:
After a breast reconstruction:
- a front opening non-underwire bra may be required for a few weeks or months.
- a non-underwire bra may then be required for a few months.
After a mastectomy
- a front opening non-underwire bra often is required initially.. This may be due to not having such good arm movement following the removal of many lymph nodes.
- a new type of bra may be required to enable a prosthesis to be worn – with or without pockets.
- some women with a prosthesis may not want to wear low cut tops or bras. The bra usually needs to be a full cup as opposed to a half or very low cut cup because the prosthesis won’t be accommodated and could be visible.
After a lumpectomy:
- many women require bras that can fit and cover a shell or partial prosthesis after surgery – with or without pockets.
- Some women cannot wear low tops due to high scarring or wearing a prosthesis. The bra usually needs to be a full cup as opposed to a half or very low cut cup because the prosthesis won’t be accommodated and could be visible.
- Soft or non-underwire bras may be required initially, e.g. some women with lower scars may find underwire bras aggravate the scar area. For other women, their usual bras can be worn.
- If underarm lymph nodes are removed, often women have the need to wear a front opening bra. This may be due to not having such good arm movement following removal of many lymph nodes.
- For many women, bras can not be worn as the skin is too sensitive. A soft supportive singlet or bra may be required.
- Some women with lower scars may find underwire bras aggravate the scar area.
- Some women cannot: wear underwire bras due to healing or scarring in the breast area.
- If no specific bra changes are required, there may still be a need for more comfortable and soft bras.
- Specific non-underwire or breast cancer specific bras may be required but some general use bras may also be fine.
- For other women, they can pretty much continue as usual. Women do not require a special bra following surgery if the bra is of a good quality and can be adapted (i.e. insertion of a pocket).
- In addition, adaptations may be necessary if women gain/carry extra weight due to their specific cancer treatments. Back extensions can be inexpensively purchased to add to the comfort.
Getting back to normal:
- Once you can wear underwire bras again, comfort, softness and just getting back to pretty bras may become the priority.
2. How to find lovely, funky bras post-breast cancer
Seeing a professional fitter
The most important thing is to find an experienced fitter – with breast cancer experience – who can fit you with the best new bra (perhaps a new size but probably a new type/style). She will be able to recommend a few bras that are suitable.
A few tips and hints:
- In many cases, it is better to sew a special pocket in to a bra so that women can access pretty ‘normal’ bras.
- Remember to fit your bra on the last hook. As it ages, you can take in the bra twice by using the other hooks.
In Wellington, I found the following fitters very good:
1. Marlene Solomon at IMAGE Lower Hutt.
Phone anytime on (04) 5693888 or on (021) 2688999.
2. Kirkcaldies and Steins Department Store
165-177 Lambton Quay
Phone (04) 472 5899
3. Undercover Secrets
20 Seaview Road, Paraparaumu
Phone (04) 902 4272
Also don’t forget about the Government’s subsidy.
There may be problems finding pretty post cancer bras as there is a limited range available. NZ as a whole does not have a great range of post breast cancer bras and the ones available may not be as pretty as your past bras. However, each lingerie fitter will have a few good ones in stock and it is great to shop around, especially when you are looking for a pretty bra or a particular colour.
There are two ranges of appropriate bras:
1) post breast cancer specific bras and
2) ‘normal’ bras which are comfortable and suitable for women who’ve had surgery.
In NZ, ask your Breast Nurse about good local lingerie fitters.
Overseas, In the United Kingdom, I found Marks and Spencers guide (in the larger areas) have a fantastic range; the bras are lovely and affordable.
I am putting together some recommended and high selling bras for breast cancer survivors. I’ll also be writing on swimwear and sleepwear later on.
And finally, a bit of fun
Here are a couple of links on funky bras:
1. Trendhunter.com http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/funky-bras has a feature on 50 funky bras. We particularly like #40 the glowing snowflake bra http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/funky-bras#40
2. And Funkybrastraps.com http://www.funkybrastraps.com/ is cool too with funky bra straps worn to be seen.