SPRINGING INTO MARCH WITH THE MASTECTOMY RECOVERY BRA
It’s a dreary February day in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick with streets still accompanied by snow and slush from the previous day’s storm. However, after walking through the doors of the studio rented for a photo shoot featuring our newest addition to the product line-up -- The Care+Wear Recovery Bra -- all anyone felt was warmth. 7 beautiful, bold breast cancer survivors and previvors proudly pranced around in the recovery bra (and jeans) while singing along to Beyonce’s “Love On Top” among other fun tunes. Their collective charisma ignited the room and it was evident these women had simultaneously connected on a much deeper level due in large part to their similar experiences of being faced with cancer risk and diagnosis.
Following the shoot, we had the opportunity to speak with 4 of the women about their respective journeys. Read about how they have overcome personal hurdles, bonded with their clinical teams, and continue to kick cancer to the curb!
Did you find a new inner strength throughout this journey?
I found a new confidence that I didn’t have before. I feel so much more sure of myself, that I can do anything and accomplish anything because I went through this experience. I find myself second-guessing myself so much less, and that is a feeling I don’t think I have ever had.
Did you feel a sense of community with your clinical team?
I really do. I love my medical team so much. I actually invited them to my wedding in October. I have never been so happy with a group of people and I really put my life in their hands. I would not be here without them, let alone be getting married without them! This is why I want to honor them at my wedding. They always gave me options and made me feel comfortable. I never completely dreaded going to treatments or appointments because everyone was/is so wonderful. Some of them also gave me their cell numbers (in case of emergency) or Facebook page to keep in contact. I also have a special bond with everyone there because my fiance proposed to me in the chemo lab after my last treatment was complete! Memorial Sloan Kettering captured it on video and I never felt more loved by everyone around me.
How did you choose your oncologist/surgeon /medical team?
My mom is good friends with a nurse practitioner at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She works directly with Dr. Andrea Barrio who is my breast surgeon. I knew I was getting the right recommendation not only because the cancer center is top in the country, but also the fact that our family friend recommended her so highly. From there Dr. Barrio helped form my team and I love each one of them. They literally saved my life and for that I am eternally grateful.
What was the order of your treatment?
Due to my advanced cancer stage of 3C Triple Negative and that I had 5 tumors and the cancer has already migrated into 10+ of my lymph nodes - I had chemotherapy first. Triple-negative does not respond to hormone treatment thus the name negative referring to the 3 hormones in the cancer cell. However, aggressive chemotherapy typically has an excellent response to the tumors. From the get-go my treatment was Chemotherapy, Surgery and then Radiation.
I was an interesting case, upon finishing chemotherapy I had a CT Scan to see if any lingering cancer cells survived my 5 months of chemotherapy. Typically young women have dense or heterogeneously dense breast tissue which in plain English means on a scan it shows up white, well guess what also shows up white on a scan? Cancer. By comparing previous scans to the latest, my hospital said it looked like a complete response which is ideal in TNBC treatment.
My breast surgeon said hold your celebration until surgery and what do you know she was absolutely correct. Although my breast tissue came back clear, my lymph nodes were a different story. They found more cancer BUT this time it was not the same cancer, it was Estrogen positive cancer.
When my Oncologist got the report he just held his head in his hands. We find out that during chemotherapy my TNBC cells were dying and they knew it but cancer is smart. My TNBC cells decided to fight back and have a second mutation of Estrogen positive cancer. With that being done, the chemotherapy that I was receiving wasn’t meant for ER+ cancer, only TNBC so these cancer cells were growing and multiplying unbenounced to us. Luckily ER+ cancer is a slow-growing cancer otherwise this could have metastasized faster. This sort of thing apparently only affects 3% of cancer patients, so I guess I pulled the short straw on that.
Are you still receiving treatment?
I just finished Radiation Treatment on January 25, 2019. I am now taking Xeloda which is chemotherapy in pill form at home. 14 days on and 7 off for the next 6 months, after that I will be taking Tamoxifen for my second cancer of Estrogen.
Have you found a new sense of community since surgery/diagnosis? And if so, how did you find it?
The community has been the best part of this whole thing. After I was diagnosed, I started a blog immediately. I really wanted to create more resources for women under 40. When I started the blog and started putting myself and my story out there, the community just followed. The friends I have made throughout my journey are undoubtedly life long friends. They understand everything I am going through because they have went through the same thing.
What would you say was the biggest change in your relationship with your body post-surgery?
My relationship with my body changed completely after my double mastectomy. The funny thing is, my breasts were only a small part of that shift. Fighting Cancer and losing part of my body changed not only how I look at myself but largely how I speak to and look at myself entirely. I am more kind, more forgiving, and extremely proud of how much my body can handle. My double mastectomy is a constant physical reminder of my emotional perceptions towards my body. I want to nurture it, love it and encourage it to be the strongest me I could possibly become.
Can you share any specific feedback on the Care+Wear Recovery Bra?
WHERE WAS THIS BRA DURING MY MASTECTOMY!? It is so comfortable and smooth as butter. The many velcro adjustments are great especially for swelling and expander fills!
I really loved the recovery bra! I wish it was available after both of my surgeries! The color was very sleek and the style was functional but also very nice.
I loved it, in fact, I believe after I put on the recovery bra I said, “I wish I had this after my mastectomy!” It was so easy to put on since it’s fastened with velcro and after breast surgery you don’t have much arm strength.
I especially like the addition of the adjustable straps. I usually have a hard time finding bras in which the straps don’t fall off my shoulders because they are too big, but with this bra, I was able to adjust to my liking. This would also be extremely helpful for going through the expansion process.
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