A bra to give breast-cancer survivors the right support

A breast-cancer support group has worked with a lingerie-and-swimwear company to develop a subsidised mastectomy bra for state patients.

Breast-cancer survivors have joined forces to develop a subsidised mastectomy bra for state patients.

Carla Lind, the chairwoman of Reach for Recovery Cape Peninsula, an organisation that supports breast-cancer patients and their families, and volunteers Michele Coe and Mercia Abrahams worked with a lingerie-and-swimwear company to provide a locally made mastectomy bra at an affordable price.

Ms Lind said many state patients did not have the luxury of shopping at a boutique for imported mastectomy bras after receiving a silicone breast prosthesis.

“Many patients in state care do not have access to either the proper bra or the correct size, which is so vital for supporting the external prosthesis,” she said.

The bra is designed to fit the subsidised prostheses, which are also locally manufactured, and Reach for Recovery volunteers have been trained to do the bra fittings by Shona Macdonald, the owner of the lingerie-and-swimwear company.

“Designing a bra that can give these women a sense of self-pride, allowing them to recognise themselves in the mirror and feel beautiful in public spaces, is so meaningful. Our vocation is to help women see themselves through the eyes of their best friend,” said Ms Macdonald.

The design of a mastectomy bra was far more complex than that of regular underwear, she said.

“An internal stretch mesh layer is added that allows the prosthesis to easily slide in and be kept firmly in place during wearing. The bra also features a wide under band (the band that goes under the cups and around the back) that helps the bra to stay in place. The straps on a mastectomy bra are also wider than those on a standard bra.”

The end product, the Carla Mastectomy Bra, is named in honour of Ms Lind.

“Reach for Recovery wants to help women who are dependent on public health services to feel confident again after their diagnosis, surgery, and treatment. A breast prosthesis and a proper-fitting bra is an important step in recovery, especially for those women from communities where there is still a stigma attached to a cancer diagnosis,” said Ms Lind.

To make an appointment for a fitting, contact Mercia Abrahams at 082 921 5753. The fittings will take place at the Reach for Recovery office, at 39 Strubens Road.