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How to regain positive body image after breast cancer op

Many women might find it difficult to cope with changes in their appearance as a result of breast cancer treatment. Here is why positive body image should be an important part of Post OP support.

Breast cancer survivor
Cancer patient standing in front of hospital window/ iStock

In 2018, Breast Cancer remains the most commonly occurring cancer in women and the second most common cancer overall. There have been over 2 million new cases reported globally this year alone. It’s a sobering statistic. Fortunately, increased awareness, early detection, and advances in oncology mean that the chances of survival are higher than ever.

Even so, treatments require choices, some of which are more difficult than others. For many women, a mastectomy remains the best chance at living their best life cancer-free. It doesn’t make the experience any less harrowing. Breast Cancers tend to be especially aggressive and leave their mark not just physically but emotionally as well. Many women struggle to reclaim their identity and self-esteem along with their health.

One small step towards rebuilding these precious commodities is through a very special kind of support: quality lingerie that allows a woman to maintain her sense of femininity. Because sometimes even the bravest of warrior woman longs to feel she is still beautiful, regardless of the battles she has fought.

Here’s why Mastectomy Bras are so important

Recovery post-op is a long hard road. A mastectomy is an invasive procedure and nerve damage can be extensive. Skin changes resulting from radiotherapy can also take several months to heal. The average woman will take up to a year or more for her body to feel ‘normal’ again.

During this time, support for healing tissue is an absolute must. Until recently, women have had little choice but to make do with conventional undergarments and make their own alterations to be able to accommodate a new shape or a prosthesis.

Fortunately, more and more manufacturers are acknowledging the need for a more specialist approach that not only accommodates the physical requirements but also the fact that many women just want their sexy back and don’t want to be limited to dowdy styles that allow for little freedom of expression.

ALSO READ: Breast cancer survivor Celeste Schurmann shares her story with Rian

Feeling beautiful in one’s own skin and claiming back one’s femininity is an important step in the healing process. Helping these brave survivors navigate this process was part of the inspiration behind the Anita Care range, which has been serving this market since the 1960s.

‘Anita Care was inspired by one of our own employees nearly 60 years ago. We wanted to find a way to make things easier for these remarkable women who already have so much to overcome as they get back on their feet. At the same time, we want to help them feel attractive and confident again,’ explains Stephen van Niekerk, distributor of the Anita Care in South Africa. ‘When selecting a post-mastectomy bra, it’s important that the item isn’t only attractive and comfortable but also well-fitted and designed with recovery in mind. Anita offers cleverly designed pockets that discreetly accommodate a breast form. Function is the heart of our products, but we recognise that lingerie has such an important emotional value to deliver to women who want to feel they can be proud of their bodies. No matter what! It’s an important kind of empowerment.’

Choosing a Bra Post Op

Need to select the right support? Here’s what to look for:

No underwires. They can irritate sensitive areas. Most surgeons suggest alternative support in the form of soft fabrics and seams, with deep side wings under the arms and no stiffeners. This avoids rubbing or chafing on any scar tissue.
Reducing the risk of Lymphedema with wide, easy to adjust straps. For added comfort and help the bra stay in place look for Bra strap cushions.

Planning on wearing a breast prosthesis? Look for good separation between the cups, with a deeper center that sits flush against the breastbone. This keeps the breast form more secure and more discreet when bending forward.

Multi-sectioned or pre-formed cups generally provide a more defined and fuller shape.

Look for microfibre fabrics which are hypoallergenic and antibacterial offering the moisture management to keep the affected areas clean and dry to promote healing.

Source: Scoop Communications

Image courtesy of iStock/ prudkov 

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