For women who have had breast cancer, losing one’s breasts often comes with losing a sense of self, which can affect body image and self-esteem. Shopping for a bra is just one more step in the mentally and physically exhausting process that comes with breast cancer treatment. Finding the perfect post-mastectomy bra is a real concern for many women, and the feedback we receive from our customers proves it. Many women write to us to share their challenges in shopping for a post-mastectomy bra, so it was important for us to learn more about the post-surgery experience.
"Who am I?"
We spoke to Shawna Rich-Ginsberg, Senior Manager of Support and Education from Rethink Breast Cancer, a charity that supports young women who are concerned about or dealing with breast cancer. Shawna creates and administers national support and educational programs for young women with breast cancer. Focusing on the unique needs of younger women, her team at Rethink offer a new take on the conversation around breast cancer, approaching the cause in a way that is daring, fresh, and relevant.
Not only do women have to deal with a painful and delicate recovery in the weeks after surgery, but they may have what feels like a whole new body to get used to as well. According to Shawna, “many women experience a period of grief.” Because breasts can be closely tied to a woman’s sense of femininity, a mastectomy can have a huge impact on a woman’s sense of self and sexuality. Many women experience a “sense of redefining themselves and move into a process of learning ‘Who am I after this experience?’” For the women who have opted to have reconstruction, their new breasts may not feel the same way and may have lost a lot of sensation, which can be extra challenging when it comes to getting intimate. It can be difficult incorporating breasts back into sexual play and touch.
Finding a bra that works
Many post-mastectomy bras aren’t exactly cute. It can be a struggle to find a bra that isn’t matronly, boring, or just plain blah. And while there are more and more options available now that didn’t exist years ago, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one.
“Most women are looking for things that are beautiful and sexy, that they feel comfortable in,” says Shawna. Some shops offer women a consultation beforehand to determine the best product for them, which is especially important to determine what they need (based on their specific case) or if they choose to go down the custom route. The thing is, custom bras can be quite expensive. Fortunately, “most private insurance companies will cover [a number of] surgical bras per calendar year.”
Shawna says that “around 4-6 weeks after surgery, [after wearing a surgical bra], women can go back to their regular bra.” Some of the women who have written to us have told us that underwire bras can irritate their scars for months—even years—after surgery, leaving them resigned to bralettes that provide limited support or sports bras that are less than sexy.
We have had a number of women tell us how happy the Evolution Bra has made them post-mastectomy. Some love the comfort they feel without an underwire bothering their scars. Some are thrilled with the support they feel without experiencing any “side boob”. And some just love how it looks.
What they’re saying about the Evo
“I never thought I would be able to wear a bra again after my mastectomy. Everything hurt my scars. But I took a huge chance and bought this one. And I LOVE it. I don't feel it at all. It actually makes me feel "normal" again. One little bra has made a HUGE difference in my quality of life.” - Lynn M.
“I am 19-months post-bilateral mastectomy, with reconstruction. This bra changes everything for me. I am thrilled with the fit. The fabric feels great against my skin. AND, as a major bonus, it looks AWESOME!!” - Stacy
To learn more about the work Shawna and her team do at Rethink Breast Cancer, visit their website here.