Personal Care: Breast Prosthesis

Personal Care: Breast Prosthesis

A visit to Reflections, a program of the Ted Mann Family Resource Center in Los Angeles, where you will see a breast prothesis fitting and meet some extraordinary survivors.

DIANNE: When somebody first comes in and they know that they’re going to need one or they do need one, the first thing you do is show them a variety of bras and show them the different types and let them hold them in their hands because it’s very traumatic, and you want them to feel that they know a little bit about it.

You don’t want to just hand them one and say this is what you’re going to wear. And then you take them into the dressing room and measure them and let them try different ones because everybody’s comfort zone is in a different place. You might think one is perfect and it’s not the one that they want to wear.

BONNIE: Hi.

DIANNE: Hi Bonnie, how are you?

BONNIE: Okay.

DIANNE: Are you ready for a new prosthesis?

BONNIE: I’m ready. I need one.

DIANNE: Okay.

BONNIE: You know, they found the lump, I found the lump and right away we just did a mastectomy because it was a large lump so they didn’t even work on it. And then I went through all the chemos and the, you know AC and Taxotere, and then about three months later, I got metastasized breast cancer. So it went to the bones in my femur and my pelvis and in my liver. So for five years I’ve been on chemo straight. I have not stopped. I’m out of them almost. They keep finding new ones.

DIANNE: And what we do basically is measure you as though you were getting a bra. And all the bras that hold a prosthesis come with little pockets inside and the pocket then will hold the prosthesis.

So when you get a prosthesis and you put it in your hand, it feels very heavy, but if you cup it over here on your hip bone with your hand underneath, that is what your breast weighs and it does feel much more natural than if you hold it like this.

So once you get your bra and you get fitted, it’s basically like this, one side you don’t have a breast and one side you do. So we find the bra that fits you the best that’s also the color you want and then the next thing is the prosthesis. The prosthesis will go inside the pocket, inside the bra and it gets adjusted like so.

DIANNE: There are different types of prostheses. There are ones that are right-sided and left-sided according to what you need.

There are triangles like this that fit the majority of people.

We also have some prostheses that also have adhesive on the back that you stick on and you can wear a regular bra and you just peel it off at night and wash it and when it’s dry the next day it’ll stick on you again.

And then there are some that have a little extra fullness either in the center or on the side because depending on your surgery and your surgeon is how your body is shaped afterwards. We’re not all shaped the same way after the surgery and so they have made various prostheses for that.

DIANNE: Look in the mirror both ways and you’ll see this is how you’ll look in clothes.

BONNIE: See if they’re even.

DIANNE: You can see if they’re in the right position.

BONNIE: It feels good.

DIANNE: It’s all a matter of moving around to make it as close to nature as we can – and comfortable.

BONNIE: Looks good.

DIANNE: Everything dealing with cancer is emotional and this little store is a very emotional store. We deal with the person who’s just been diagnosed and wants to cry and the person who’s gone through the surgery and now feels horrible because they’re going through treatment. We deal with all the emotions and you just learn to do it. You, if you’ve been there, it’s a lot easier because you totally understand and so that’s why a lot of us in here are here and it does make it easier for the patients.

[End of recording]

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