Shopping for a post-mastectomy bra to wear during the expander process

multiplebras

We’ve chatted before about whether you need to wear a bra after a prophylactic mastectomy. To save you reading through my previous musings, I will summarise my findings. Do you need to? Not technically, no. These bad boys, especially during the expander phase are rock solid and won’t be going anywhere. Could you if you want to? Yes, of course.

However, as is often the case, the real questions don’t come until after the event. I know I don’t want to be splashing out on fancy lingerie before I get my final Foobs. I’m a little cheap and what’s the point, they’ll change size each week? But as I prepare to head back to work very soon, the following concerns have arisen:

Wearing a bra post-mastectomy: The real questions!

–          To pad or not to pad? Or to put it more succinctly, do I want to wear padding to go back to work so people can’t see how little my current boobies are? Or do I want to just show my baps as they are, regardless where I am in the expanding process?

–          Do my nipples show through some of my clothes?

–          Do I want my colleagues to be able to see my nipples?

To pad or not to pad?

Padded Bra

I was given a bra in hospital. It’s a decent one by Berlei that does up at the front. Yes it’s beige and extremely non-sexy, but it was free. It also comes with generous pads that are much better than any of the rolled up tissue paper I used to use as a pre-pubescent teen.

But do I want to pad my bra? Mr F thinks I do and I’d have more confidence when I go back to work?

For me, I don’t know if I give two stuffs? Surprisingly enough I’ve been pretty open about what I’ve had done, so people aren’t expecting me to return with a full rack. So returning wearing humungous padding feels a little disingenuous, as though I’m denying what I had done.  I also think it would draw more attention to my chest than not having anything.

What’s more, contrary to what most people think when they’ve seen me for the first time since the op, I’m not concave, or completely flat. There is some shape there and in the words of my friend, I just look like a sporty, small chested girl.

So, to pad or not to pad?

Nope. People can see the progression as and when it happens.

Do my nipples show through some of my clothes?

Yes, they really do. Seemingly more so now as the left one is in a permanent state of not erect (that function is now defunct) but not flat.  The right one is currently sitting underneath a bandage, which is also showing through clothes.

Do I want my colleagues to be able to see my nipples?

Hell no!

So what to do?

Well I found my solution yesterday in these very, tween-like cammi-bras from Ambra http://www.ambra.net.au/. They are soft, have no wires, will stretch as my Foobs grow, and most importantly, WILL HIDE MY NIPPLES FROM MY WORK COLLEAGUES!

They do look a bit like ‘my first bra’, which essentially they are, but they were tres cheap at $19.95 and are exactly what I need for now.

firstbra1

firstbra2

 

Hospital Fashion

I am currently in hospital, not hiding! Despite not having any breasts at present, I’d still like to make an effort to look as nice as I can. So ladies and gentleman, with the help of my very talented photographer, Miss H Pike, I bring you, HOSPITAL HAUTE COUTURE:

Massage Socks:

massagelegsAmazing. You get these pre-op and they keep them on for about a day and a half. They massage one leg at a time and stop you from getting DVT. If only every Easy Jet or Tiger Airways plane had these installed.

Compression Socks:

DVTsocks

If you act really healthy and show you can get up and walk around, they take the amazing massage socks away from you and give you these compression stockings. They do the same thing, just nowhere near as cool.

Rabbit Eye Mask:
eyemask eyemask2

They wake you up all the time here, especially during the first night, so the reality is you need to sleep when you can and this pretty thing helps.  It also doubles up as a head band and hides greasy fringes that can’t be washed for a few days. Find it at the Aussie King of night-time apparel, Peter Alexander http://www.peteralexander.com.au/shop/en/peteralexander.

Drain Bags:

drainhandbags

I was wearing these as bracelets on my wrist, until again, I got more mobile and they gave me some floral bags to carry them in. Not very attractive but I guess they are better than exposing the plastic sacks containing the contents of my arm pits?

Comfy, Brightly Coloured Pants from Bonds:

pants

 

Avid readers will remember that I wanted to start each day in hospital with brand new, brightly coloured pants so I could begin the day in a positive fashion. Today I opted for purple and white stripes bikini briefs, brought to life with this shocking pink band. http://www.bonds.com.au/womens/underwear/hipster-bikini-244.html#80=3313&142=778

Armpit Cushions:

pitbags pitbags2

 

The breast nurse left these for me. Not quite worked out what they are for. I think they make sure your drains don’t rub? I dunno, they are purple and shiny though so that’s nice.

Adult Baby Onesie:

OnesieI can’t really get anything over my head, so what better than this button up, adult onesie from, you guessed it, Peter Alexander. The pockets are also deep enough to carry my drain bags,which is supper helpful when getting in and out of bed to travel all of 3 feet to the toilet. http://www.peteralexander.com.au/shop/en/peteralexander/pastel-stripe-onesie

Knitted Bunny Headphones:

earphones

This was a present from work. I haven’t used them yet as I have been too busy pressing the morphine button and blogging about ridiculous topics to pass the time, but they go with the ensemble and people love them! http://www.shop.cottonon.com/shop/product/knitted-headphones-bunny-pink/

OK, that’s it from the hospital fashionista for now.  Hope you enjoyed my style tips from the surgical catwalk.

 

Bra Binning: One night to Surgery

In the 1960’s the woman’s rights movement was well-known for supposedly burning their bras as a symbol of liberation. This originated on September 7th, 1968 when a group of feminists gathered to protest against the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_America_protest

What grabbed the media’s attention at the protest was the ‘freedom trash can’ into which women symbolically threw ‘instruments of female torture’ including false eyelashes, make-up, girdles and bras.

bra burning

Now I don’t feel like my bras are an ‘instrument of torture’, I think they are an incredibly useful piece of clothing that make your boobs look infinitely better than they do sans-support. However, as I have less than 12 hours left with my current boobs, I am marking the occasion with my own freedom bin and liberation movement from the threat of breast cancer.

We’re all friends here and have already discussed my reluctance to buy nice underwear.  I have nothing against nice underwear, it’s just nice underwear is expensive (especially in Australia) and I really like nice, but cheap clothes. Given the choice between a trendy top from Sports Girl and a lacy intimate from Elle Macpherson, I’ll choose the top every time.

Having known I was going to undergo this surgery for about 6 months has also exacerbated the standard of my bra portfolio.  There’s been no point in buying any new ones, but as a result, my brassieres are about to disintegrate. But, the time has come, and they have treated me well, so before they go in Trisha’s Freedom Bin, I want to pay them a little tribute….

favbra

This is my favourite and most recent bra. I thought I’d only bought it a year ago. Mr F says it’s about two. Whilst it looks nice from a distance, look how fake tan has muddied the colour of the baby pink straps.

WhitebraMy only, kinda white bra whose underwires are about to break through the material. I didn’t even purchase this one and was a hand-me-down from a friend.

 onehook

An old bra from the UK – only one of the hooks still works.

old

My oldest bra, it doesn’t fit and the straps are way too long.

dots

What looks like a teenager’s bra, way too small and my nipples always break-free .

pink

Dingy, used to be pink bra, maybe my first Australian purchase. I’ve been here four years.

So whilst I’m not sad to send my bras to my Freedom Bin, I would like to thank them for their support. Thanks guys, your work here is done…

 

So I’m not going to have any boobs – do I really need a bra?

The answer is I don’t know just yet.

bras

I’ve never really been one for fancy lingerie. Every once in a blue moon I will buy a pair of matching underwear, which very quickly becomes non-matching when I wear my new favourite bra 50 x more than the new matching pants. Much to my boyfriend’s dismay, I’m a little partial to big, comfortable pants and knowing I’m about to undergo a radical change in breast size, I have held off buying new bras to replace my existing ones that are pretty much falling apart.

However, I am a planner and so questions as to, do I need bras for after surgery and how soon do I need them, are currently on my agenda.

What I do know?

  • I know I can’t wear anything with under-wire because of the wounds and stitches
  • I know I should get one that does up at the front as I’m likely to have limited movement in my arms

What I don’t know (and this is the long one)?

  • Do I wear a bra straight away? Some sources say you do and that I’ll need to sleep in one for a while? Other sources say it depends on the individual and what the surgeon advises
  • Will the hospital give me a bra or should I have a couple ready for the hospital?
  • Do I need to get a bra the size of where my reconstruction will end up or do I go conservative for more support?
  • And the one that’s flummoxed me: Once all is well and I have a new set of boobs, do I need to wear a bra ever again? Christina Applegate, who was diagnosed with cancer and then found she had a BRCA gene mutation made this claim on Oprah and I don’t really know how I feel about it. http://www.oprah.com/health/Christina-Applegates-Breast-Cancer-Battle

Part of being a woman is wearing a bra and you never forget how happy, not to mention relieved you were when you could finally justify wearing one. And whilst I am a big fan of being able to go sans boulder-holder to the coffee shop on a Sunday morning, I’d don’t know how I’d feel about doing that on a daily basis. You never know, having my current boobies taken away from me, I may treat my new ones a little better and invest in something nice to carry them in.

Myself and Mr F are off to the plastic surgeon next week so I will endeavour to find out as much as I can.  In the meantime, I am impatient and love to be prepared, so I’m going to buy a couple… just in case.  I’ll come back and will show you what I decide upon and where I’ve found some good options.

Exercise