Latoya Grindley, Staff Reporter
Losing one or even two of the most important assets which define a woman's femininity is quite a devastating experience for a breast cancer victim to undergo.
Outside of grappling and trying to come to terms with the reality that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and the taxing treatment procedures to follow, many have had to undergo a mastectomy - the removal of one or both breasts.
This decision is normally recommended to avoid the recurrence and potential spreading of the vicious disease.
No doubt the body will look and feel different after the removal of breasts, which may trigger self-esteem issues, but with the availability of mastectomy brassieres and prostheses, breast cancer patients and survivors can still regain a heightened sense of femininity.
The mastectomy brassieres are made with pockets or openings for the prostheses, which is an artificial breast to fit almost as a padding inside.
According to the immediate past president of Jamaica Reach for Recovery, an affiliate of Jamaica Cancer Society, Elise Sellers-Wright, the prostheses come numbered between one and 18 to give persons their desired size.
"If only one breast has been removed, then a size can be picked to create a balance with the remaining one. However, if both were removed, then you can just choose a size you prefer. But you have to ensure that the size fits your frame so it does not look abnormal."
As for the brassieres, the sizes are universal, so the size that was worn prior to breast removal tends to remain the same. If this isn't the case, though, Sellers-Wright notes that the style may contribute to this.
"The sizes are consistent, but generally if they don't fit, it is because the style may cause the size to fit differently. So, for example, there can be a case where a woman wears 34A but 34B in another style may be the right fit."
To ensure that clients get the right fit and style according to their preference, they are privy to a consultation, which includes fittings.
Currently, with the youngest client being 18 and the eldest in her 80s, the brassiere styles appeal to different tastes. "We have different styles to suit different occasions like, for example, the performance bra, which is to be worn when working out. There is also the camisole type, which covers scars from surgery that are higher and more visible. For those who want to look and feel sexy, we also have lace ones."
If cared for properly, the prostheses, which are made of silicone gel, can last between four and five years. It should be washed with bath gel under flowing water and towel-dried.
Consultations and fittings are done on Tuesdays and Fridays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the The Jamaica Cancer Society, located at 16 Lady Musgrave Road Kingston 5. Telephone: 927 - 4265