You might have chuckled a bit (Gary did) when you read my post a couple of days ago, that said we had to stop at Walmart for underwear when we were in the city this past week.
While it may have sounded comical - it was actually quite urgent on my part.
This has less to do with underwear and more to do with having only one breast after a total Mastectomy for breast cancer.
If you have had a Mastectomy - this post is for you. A God Bless each and every one of you my dear sisters in Cancer.
When you first have a Mastectomy, you are fixated with the loss of the breast... how it feels, how it looks... and very early on you have to totally change your choice of bra's, tops, sweaters etc.
I couldn't wait to get my first free prosthesis from Cancer care - I went and had it fitted and got the right bra that went with it, and I was perfectly content and comfortable.
But then my cancer medication added weight to my body - a lot of weight, and it felt like most of it went directly to my remaining breast. My breast spilled out of the prosthesis bra, and the prosthesis itself was half the size of my real breast with the weight gain.
Then the real misery began.
I had returned back to work full time - I needed to wear a prosthesis so I found a larger one and adapted a regular bra to hold it. I bought several prosthesis and I even knit myself one, which strange as it seems was the best one I owned - until I threw it in the washing machine...
When I retired and moved out to the country, I decided I would scrap the idea of wearing the prosthesis - sounds easy, but actually it is not.
Without the weight and fill of another breast or a prosthesis, the torso part of your body is always off. I tried wearing regular bras, and they were extremely uncomfortable - the weight of one breast completely pulls the bra out of alignment on your chest, and you end up with the side that has no breast all riding up very uncomfortably in your arm pit.
Enter the Fruit of the Loom sports bra's or sport tanks. They are soft, stretchy and most important I have found they have 2 regular straps, that help to anchor the piece across your chest. There is minimal pulling into the arm pit, if you get the right size - if it is too small for your breast - it will pull terribly on the side without the breast.
The sports bras with the t-strap back, don't work for me at all - they completely pull under the arm pit and can actually become quite uncomfortable.
I cannot tell you how many years I wish I had had the option for a double mastectomy - I'm still counting those years. Quite frankly I would rather have none, than one... but at the time of my surgery it was not an option.
Implants were not something I was interested in - much for the same reason as the prosthesis issue of weight gain. Imagine going through the surgery to have implants and then gaining weight - your chest instantly looks wrong - the implant won't change, but your real breast always will.
So - yes - the trip to Walmart was really urgent for me, as all my sports bras needed replacing, and I absolutely cannot live without them.
It takes a long time to be comfortable after mastectomy, and I'm not talking about pain. I am talking about the mess in your head and not on your chest. It's a physical thing for sure, but more than that it's a psychological thing. If you can find your comfort balance with both aspects of your loss - you are on the right track.
No one way out of this dilemma is correct - you have to find your own comfort - but if my little rant on this post gives you one more option - then I've done my job.
For those of you regular women ( by "regular" I mean two breasted) who don't need the support of a regular bra every minute of your day... try one of these sport options... they come in many levels of support, and if you don't care about perky... you may love them.
I think it's about time we got comfortable - don't you?