BY JOAN LINCOLN
“I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, by Martina McBride
I think it’s a big song, and I think it’s a real song. Hopefully this song can change lives. Most of the time, we try to write fun, up-tempo, feel-good songs, but this one is actually going to touch a lot of lives I think.”
Men and women with breast cancer today have a mind-boggling array of options, from wigs and scarves to specialty bras and swimsuits.
My family history with breast cancer has taught me that when you’re first diagnosed with breast cancer, all you can think about is “Am I going to die?” But as you begin to learn to live with your cancer diagnosis, you start to think about other things, like “What am I going to look like bald?” It may sound frivolous, but ask any breast cancer survivor and she/he tell you that they thought a lot about whether to splurge on that real human hair wig or what they might look like in a swimsuit.
Many male breast cancer patients have an element of embarrassment regarding the diagnosis of breast cancer. There is a perception that it is a woman’s disease, and therefore men feel shame with the diagnosis. There is no reason to feel ashamed about the diagnosis of cancer of any type; a cancer survivor is exactly that, a survivor.
Feeling good about how you look is an important part of feeling good about yourself in general. And no one deserves to feel good about herself or himself more than a person who’s surviving breast cancer. Fortunately, men and women with breast cancer today have a variety array of options, from wigs and scarves to specialty bras and swimsuits for women, designed with their needs in mind.
Not Your Grandmothers Bra
Mastectomy bras still look a bit different than regular bras because they include pockets for breast prostheses; they often cover much more of the breast than do regular bras. You can also ask to have a pocket sewn into your own bra to accommodate a breast form. You should be fitted for a mastectomy bra by a certified fitter. Most cancer programs either have boutiques that do fittings or provide referrals. Most insurers will pay for at least one mastectomy bra per year (along with coverage for prostheses). Check with your carrier about coverage.
If you’ve had a lumpectomy and don’t need full breast prosthesis, you may still want to get a small breast form for symmetry. My family education has explained that it’s like filling in a missing piece to the puzzle. I have also learned that there are about eight different styles of partial breast forms — different shapes and thicknesses — in a full range of sizes. There is also a “molded cup” bra that is pre-shaped and easily filled out.
Other options available include a soft camisole that women can wear during their post-surgical period with pockets to hold drainage tubing and bottles. Many insurers also pay for one of these. Good news! There is also an array of self-adhering nipples and nipple covers for women in various stages of reconstruction.
Today, you can literally buy almost anything with the famous pink ribbon on it – from hats and socks to bookmarks, dog collars, and eyeglass cases.
The Breast Cancer Site: www.thebreastcancersite.com
I truly believe that women and men who’ve had breast cancer are on a mission for awareness, and rightfully so. Wearing any shade of PINK can be their way of advertising it.
Joan E. Lincoln owns Panache Vintage & Finer Consignment in the Brighton Commons.