Friday, November 18, 2011


Today I think I shall talk about fakes. Not that fakes are a such bad thing.  In fact, if you will flip your brain a little bit and adjust your way of thinking, you will come to realize that fakes can be a really, really good thing.

Before mastectomy, I never thought much about the positive side of fakes -- fake personalities; people trying to be who they clearly were not, that is what a fake was to me.  But used correctly, fakes can be worn to your advantage; make you feel like a million bucks.  They can give a recovering cancer patient (like me) an entirely new outlook.

Here is what makes me such a delightful fake.

Breast Forms (see former post):  Which can be purchased in every size, shape, and form. Made to fit nearly every person, regardless of circumstance. The nice thing for people (like me) who choose NOT to have breast reconstruction, you can be any size you want on any given day -- Twiggy today, Marilyn Monroe tomorrow. The advantage to breast reconstruction is, of course, you do have cleavage and you can wear a regular bra.  The forms inside your skin, though, are as fake as the ones I wear outside.  Either way you go, they will be fake.  Not a Hollywood Boob Job glamorous type fake (that would be nice, wouldn't it?) but at least it's an option women have nowadays, thank God!  

Wigs:  You know, I used to think that wigs were the tackiest things on earth.  Honestly, I felt so sorry for women who, for whatever reason, "had" to resort to wearing them.  They looked like wigs.  Stiff, heavy, hot and unyielding as a statue.  Either that or they looked like costume hair -- the kind you wear on Halloween or to a crazy clown party. The next misconception was that good wigs would cost way too much or they had to be made from real human hair.  Guess what?  I was wrong on all points.

The American Cancer Society, once again, comes to the rescue.  They sell the most amazing synthetic, affordable wigs in the TLC catalog.  They have styles to fit every ethnic group, every type of hair style, every hair color, even highlighted hair.  They have hair that swings in the wind, that you can style and brush and part wherever you want to part it.  They have curly hair, straight hair, short hair, long hair, Farrah Fawcett type hair, pixie cuts and page-boys. 

One lady said she purchased five wigs and has loved every single one.  You know, I can understand.  And you don't have to have gone through chemo to need a wig either.  Some women just plain have very thin hair -- thin to the point of bald. The nice thing about a wig is that you simply never, ever have a bad hair day. Never. I do not have any idea who design, cut and color the wigs for the American Cancer Society, but they are truly amazing. The ones that come with highlights are like something you would paid a high-end hairdresser a ton of money to do. 

It's really funny, but when I took chemo many people never even knew I wore a wig at all.:-$ don't tell anyone shh!  Never.  Not even my own doctor who was concerned that I had not lost my hair (if you take the type of chemo I was taking and don't lose you hair, it means it's not working). I had to lift my wig off to prove to him that I had.

Of course I am thrilled that my own hair is growing back.  My breast surgeon said what is coming in now is called Chemo Curl -- very tight little screwed up ringlets. No matter what I do, I can't make my hair straighten out even a little bit. Evidently it will take approximately two years for my real hair to come back in normally. So, thank goodness for the many varieties of wigs.  Only the people who know me well are even aware that I am on my second wig.  And I love that I never have to experience a bad hair day.  And that it only takes me about three minutes to fix my hair.  And that I only have to gently wash my wig about every two weeks. ;) winking

Anyway, that is my fake post.  Yet I know that there are so many delightful fakes out there waiting to be discovered. Suggestions or anyone?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mastectomy Bras and Breast Forms

This is my husband Dwain and me -- posing at a regular tourist stop in the fall, mainly because of the incredible beauty of the sugar maple trees.  But this is also where most of our family, friends and dear loved ones are buried -- Maplewood Cemetery. 
I could not start this blog without a couple of updated photos, now could I?  I mean, it's been, what?  nearly 4 months since I last wrote.  I won't make excuses.  Let's just say, I've been having so much summer fun that writing was probably the last thing on my mind.  Actually I'm glad I waited because I believe the last thing that I said was that I would write about mastectomy bras and breast forms. HA! And I thought I knew so much in June.  NOT!  

And by the way, for those of you who may be new to this blog, let me give a very brief back history.  I had a double mastectomy last November with no reconstruction.  I don't intend to have reconstruction.  That is not everyone's choice, but it was my choice.  My take on it is that I can be any size I want, any day of the week, AND I'm just plain skiddish when it comes to pain, infections and abscesses, and I don't like surgeries that last 14 to 20 hours. I'll just leave it at that.  Breast reconstruction is not for everyone. 

Anyway, the breast form lady, Kim, who fitted me said that in her opinion my breast surgeon, Dr. Dana Abraham, was a most skilled artist/surgeon, and she's seen a considerable number of mastectomy scars.  She said mine was so thin and perfectly straight.  For a mastectomy patient, that is such a lovely thing to hear.  I mean, it's not like we women go around looking at each other's bare chests, comparing scars -- although we do talk about whether or not we liked our surgeons.  Of course, I adored mine.  The second thing Kim told me was that although my insurance company would pay for six mastectomy bras a year, that I should pick maybe three now (this was last winter) and get three more later because oftentimes our weight fluctuates due to chemotherapy or other medications.  She also said, I might want to wait to get the other three because plain and simple, the first three might just feel worn out by the end of summer.  

What ended up happening was that by the end of June, my breast forms were not fitting properly in any of my bras, especially in my little camisole bra.  I wore that thing one day to work, and by the way, it was a l-o-n-g day, my chest hurt because the breast forms kept slipping up and down.  Here is an example of what my (heavy) breast forms looked like: 

The next morning my chest was red, covered with blister-like things.  Plain and simple, the forms were too heavy for that particular bra. They would also sort of slip under my arms when I wore a regular mastectomy bra. Dwain solved the problem by looking in the TLC catalog (that's the catalog put out by the American Cancer Society that sells everything you could possibly need if you have cancer -- amazing wigs, adorable/affordable hats & scarves, soft soothing items, and it's especially nice for women who have breast cancer) and finding some very lightweight breast forms that look like this:

These are filled with micro-beads and are so light you almost would not know they were there.  They are absolutely perfect for hot weather and to stick into a camisole. 
And I wore these every day for a couple of months, especially during the hottest months of the summer. I liked them so much that Dwain bought me another pair in a larger size, because guess what? a larger size isn't any heavier.  I love that we can do that -- change size.  HA!  The down side to these is that they are sort of like a bean bag -- they sometimes mash and flatten, depending on what you are wearing, causing your bust to look smaller -- sort of formless, if you will.  Then came the new breast form, also from the TLC catalog:

These are called lightweight silicone breast forms.  Unlike the micro bead forms, these are extremely sturdy, easy to slip into the bra pockets and they hold their shape perfectly. The key word here is light weight.

Dwain suggested that maybe it was time for me to visit Kim again, that perhaps my older mastectomy bras were not fitting properly.  I had to admit, I wasn't wearing any of them very much, preferring instead to wear the two free "training" bras I received from the American Cancer Society because they (a) fit (b) were comfortable (c) my new breast forms fit inside the pockets without slipping and sliding around.  

Kim took out her measuring tape.  "You've lost weight.  A lot of weight.  You're definitely going to need smaller bras, and probably a new set of breast forms.  I will see what you insurance company says about that." Kim told me that it was no wonder that my breast forms had been slipping and sliding around.  She said that I should have come to see her long ago, that she could have helped me.  I had no idea that it had to do with weight.  

Anyway, I came away with three new, very pretty, bras, a cup and two bra sizes smaller. Here is what they basically look like (and that is NOT me modeling the bras). 

Pink Lace Bra

I love this bra because it gives me the opportunity to wear a low-cut top. The down side of not having real boobs is that I no longer have any cleavage.  But I do have lace, right? 

AHHH!  And then there is the t-shirt bra -- all smooth lines.  Just sooo sporty and perfect for my I'm-not-working-today clothing style. 

Although my insurance company will not allow me to have a new set of breast forms this year, I am approved for a new set in January.  Hey, I can live with that.