The only thing worse than buying a new pair of jeans is buying a new bra. I remember when my mother took me to a department store to buy my first bra. A matronly salesclerk with doughy hands and an abrupt manner asked me to disrobe from the waist up, then proceeded to measure my barely there, prepubescent breasts. If that wasn’t bad enough, my mother hovered in the fitting room doorway making comments like, “Poor little thing. She’s got a figure like a yardstick. She may never grow into a decent pair of breasts.”
For most of us, buying a new bra continues to be a frustrating experience, especially if we have undergone various breast cancer procedures. Here are a few things to keep in mind that might make buying a post breast cancer bra a little easier
1. Find a professional bra fitter, and do not be embarrassed for her to see your breasts. Bra fitters have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and what you think is bad, will probably earn you five stars from your bra fitter. On a weekly basis, bra fitters see everything: women with three breasts—I personally know a woman with three breasts—to transsexuals who’ve begun taking hormones and are there to buy their first “training bra.” So while your mastectomy may be a big deal to you, it is not a big deal for your fitter.
2. You have made it through treatment. You can do anything! Do not give breast cancer any more of your power than it has already claimed. Wear your scars proudly. They have made you stronger. They are your survivorship badges. You have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and nothing, certainly not buying a bra, should intimidate you now.
3. No one is more critical of our bodies than we are. Few women, even high paid models and cover girls have perfect bodies, which is generally what makes them good models. They have some feature, slightly out of sync, that makes them distinctive. Most of us have one breast larger than the other, inverted nipples or nipples that look like landing sites on a hummingbird feeder. How many of us have a perfect nose, great looking feet or pretty shell-shaped ears? Breasts are the same. Do not single out one body part and fixate on it. We are not our feet. We are not our breasts. We are the whole package—a thinking, loving, compassionate woman, and compassion starts at home, so cut yourself a break. A beautiful woman is more “mindset” than body.
4. Each year 250,000 women, in the United States alone, are diagnosed with breast cancer, in addition to over 2.5 million U.S. survivors. That translates into one in seven or eight women, in their lifetime, who will get breast cancer. Granted, we are not talking about the other 2,749,999 women who are buying a new bra, we are talking about you, but the odds are pretty good the woman in the next fitting room is also a breast cancer survivor.
5. Buy at least one sexy bra, even if you do not have a partner who will see it, and buy bras often. I cannot tell you how many women I see at the gym who are wearing the same shapeless, dowdy looking grayish yellow bra they bought five years ago. Even a twenty-year-old would look like a sack of potatoes in a bra like that. A few months after my first mastectomy, I bought myself a red velvet bra for Valentines Day, and I wear it every opportunity I have. Get rid of the notion of “saving it for good.” Good is every day you are alive, so wear that beautiful bra to the grocery store.
I dreamed I was cancer free in my Maidenform bra… and I am!