To Your Health: Boutique restores cancer patients’ femininity
By Norene DeLaurentis May 14, 2013 2:24PM
Updated: June 16, 2013 6:11AM
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women. Lumpectomies, mastectomies or lymph node removal are commonly part of the treatment.
At any age, a woman wants to look good and feel good. A woman’s breasts are a part of who she is. Losing a breast or even a portion of one can be devastating. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help restore feelings of femininity.
Following any of these procedures, it’s important that women are properly fitted for the right bra. A woman can usually obtain clearance from her surgeon to be fitted within six to eight weeks after surgery.
Locating a certified bra fitter is essential in order to achieve the right fit. These professionals are specifically educated, trained and certified to provide breast prostheses and post-mastectomy bras.
A certified fitter also understands the process the women are going through. Their specialization and experience in working with breast cancer patients means they are in tune with women’s needs and desire to maintain a feminine allure.
Breast prostheses, also known as breast forms, are commonly made of silicone gel.
Often fitted inside a bra, swimsuit or other garment, some are made to attach with adhesive directly to the chest wall.
These weighted forms are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes. “Shapers” are used to fill voids that may result from certain surgeries.
The type of surgery a woman has had and what she is looking for are all taken into consideration in a fitting.
When a portion of the body is removed, weight is also removed. This weight helps to align the back, shoulders and arms. Some women hunch over to hide their physical changes.
When out of balance, they can develop back, neck and shoulder problems. The weight of a silicone breast prosthesis will replace the weight of a natural breast and restore balance.
In addition to balance considerations, prostheses can provide protection for the chest and surgical scars. They also will keep a bra from riding up or shifting sideways.
Following lymph node removal, patients can develop lymphedema, which causes the arm to swell. A poorly fitted bra can be a contributing factor to developing lymphedema.
Doctors frequently prescribe special sleeves to be worn on the arm, which a certified professional may help to fit properly.
Many women put off purchasing bras and forms, not realizing Medicare will cover much of the expense, as will most private insurance companies.
After breast surgery, locating a certified fitter is essential to a woman’s physical and emotional well-being. The surgeon, nurse and breast cancer peers are good resources for finding a fitter.
Locally, Lynn’s Boutique carries different bra colors, styles and sizes with many forms and shapes to achieve a truly customized fitting. As their certified prosthesis and bra fitter, I have the privilege of helping women look and feel better following breast cancer surgery.
Located in the Comprehensive Cancer Institute on the Franciscan St. James Olympia Fields campus, the boutique was created specifically to serve cancer patients and carries many different items to meet their needs.
DeLaurentis is the Lynn’s Boutique certified prosthesis and bra fitter at Franciscan St. James Health in Olympia Fields. Franciscan St. James is a member of the Southland Health Alliance.