Have you ever gone looking for bras that don’t have underwire? I have – they are really hard to find. And, why would I be looking for bras with no underwire?
There is a lot of controversy around the issue ‘does wearing underwire bras cause breast cancer?’ One of the main reasons to think about this issue is the fact that wearing a bra that gives the breast more freedom of movement. This movement allows lymph fluid in the breast to flush out toxins and waste materials. We’re not talking about no bra, just a bra with good support but without the underwire. Here is a link to a great article explaining this issue – http://www.007b.com/bras_breast_cancer.php.
Often when a woman has breast surgery, the underarm and side of the body become more sensitive. For myself, I find the underwire hits a nerve and causes my arm to go numb. The issue then becomes comfort. Sometimes a skin flap is left on the side of the body. You’ll notice that mastectomy bras have no seams on the side and are made in a soft fabric to provide this comfort and ease of wear.
I’d like to see the bra industry provide more options for women who are concerned about their breast health. What do you think?
Since I’m due to travel shortly, the thought of lymphedema prevention and protection has crossed my mind. This is an area that people often overlook – feel they are safe and don’t need to worry. Wrong. The air pressure in the aircraft cabin can affect the lymph drainage in your arm, especially if you have had node dissection for breast cancer.
Wearing a lower compression lymphedema sleeve reduces your risk of getting lymphedema during travel. I found the one with a gauntlet (or glove) attached easier to manage rather than having two pieces. It is easy to slip the glove part off when washing your hands.
Also, having the lymphedema sleeve on is a great reminder to be careful when lifting your luggage, especially lifting heavy luggage. The recommended weight for lifting is 15 pounds. Get help if you need it. Most people are willing to be of assistance.
Something often forgotten in the shock of getting a cancer diagnosis are some of the little things which become big things. One of these is proper garments after the surgery, whether it is a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. With either surgery, you will have drains and bandaging. Nowadays, you are sent home from the hospital within a day so the drains are still there and need to be managed.
Having a proper mastectomy camisole makes life much easier. There is room for the bandages and a drain pouch so you can be discreetly mobile. The camisoles are made of soft cotton, some with velcro fastenings at the front if you are having mobility issues with your arm after node dissection. Also some have no seams at the side eliminating the friction on incisions. These mastectomy camisoles are then convertible to wear with breast forms once you have healed from the surgery.
No need to sacrifice style and comfort after a mastectomy. Yes, at first, you are sore and it might be a challenge to adjust to your new image. However, there are lots of options available on the market that provide the support you need for prosthesis and the subsequent comfort and ease of wear.
Sometimes it’s nice to just wear a top without a bra or in this case, have a bra built in. I remember the wonderful summer dresses with built in bras. I had several – they were so easy to wear and comfortable, especially in hot, muggy weather.
Take some time and have a look around. There beautiful toppers to dress up jeans, wear for lounging or exercise wear. A mastectomy camisole can serve the same purpose (top and bra combined) under a jacket or sweater and be very dressy.
Cooler days are coming and being bald from cancer treatment, namely chemotherapy, means finding something to keep your head warm, not just covered up. These days, there are many stylish options that don’t scream ‘cancer patient’. Chemo hats that cover your ears and come down low in the back of the head below the hairline are the best choice.
Alternate between hats, scarves, turbans – have some fun with different fashions, colors, fabrics depending on the climate in which you live. I always found there was an occasion for each – casual days at home, outings with friends, appointment days, and dressy times when you want to look fabulous. Not everyone has a wig or can afford a real hair wig. Hats, scarves, etc. can be classy and are affordable.
One wouldn’t think anything about what to wear on your head when you go to bed unless you have lost your hair due to chemotherapy. Hair keeps the heat in and when you have no hair, you get cold. Remember the pictures of people in the olden days wearing their sleep caps. Those were the days when there was no central heating and winter nights were cold.
Fashions have changed a lot since then. Chemo hats are a great option. They keep you warm at night, especially a cozy, comfortable knit that is soft on your head and stays in place. Choose a color that makes you feel relaxed and beautiful. A cotton fabric is also best to help wick away the night sweats.
Breast cancer has been linked to cosmetics and in particular, parabens in the products we put on our skin. Our body absorbs these chemicals and not all of them are eliminated from our body. Since women are the major users of skin care products and makeup, it stands that we are the most exposed.
Paraben is used mainly as an antimicrobial preservative in cosmetics and personal care products. In research, paraben has been found in 18 out of 20 tumours tested and indicates that it mimics estrogen-like activity in our body. Breast cancers respond to estrogen. With the rise in breast cancer among women, 1 in 3, it pays to be alert to products that can cause us harm.
Look for organic skin care products with no parabens and be on the safe side. Your health may depend on it.
Many women opt for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. It entails another two surgeries – one for the insertion of the tissue expander, followed by several stages of expansion of the tissue, and then finally, the final insertion of the permanent implant.
During this time, a comfortable bra that gives you the support and comfort you need is very important. You will be tender, so soft cotton will feel gentle against your skin. Plus you want to minimize seams which can cut into areas of scarring. It pays to be prepared, have a look at the options available and make sure you have a compression bra that works for you.
Wearing a lymphedema sleeve or compression sleeve is not an option when you have lymphedema. The compression helps keep the lymph flowing properly minimizing the swelling. It is also imperative to wear a sleeve, even if you have mild lymphedema, during exercise. Hot weather also seems to create more swelling but not always fun to wear a sleeve in the humidity.
So, having an option for night time bandaging is perfect. In the beginning, your therapist will bandage your arm. There are sleeves available that will give you an inner liner and an outer liner for sleeping so you don’t have to do the bandaging.
Nice to have options and definitely worth looking into.
There are often some surprises when one is released home from the hospital after a mastectomy.
1. The drain and tubes go with you. How do you cope with it? Where do you put it and/or carry it around with you at home and discreetly away from home. You need a camisole with a pocket or holder for the drain and a place to attach the tubes.
2. Your surgery site is sore so you don’t want anything tight around it, often times at the side of your body. Something soft and cozy is the answer and no side seams.
3. You may have trouble lifting your arm. This means pajamas that button in front and a camisole that you can slip into without pulling over your head. Find one that has a velcro front closing.
4. Something versatile that will still serve you when the drain and tubes are gone. Look for a camisole that has pockets for a prosthesis which you will use later.
If you have chemotherapy, you will doubly love a snuggly mastectomy camisole. Feeling cold and chilly often are side effects both from the treatment and also from the fatigue that seems to be part of the journey. Being prepared and in the know helps so you can be ready before your surgery.