Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stage Three, Grade Three Breast Cancer….What a birthday present. In May 2006 one week before I turned 50 I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer Grade 3. My main tumor that was not there 10 months before was over 7 cm, poorly differentiated, and in every part of my left breast plus the sentinel node. After an unsuccessful lumpectomy I chose to have a bi-lateral mastectomy. My Oncologist told me they don’t usually recommend the bi-lateral, but I my case, if I could handle it mentally, it would be the best. He said it was if I would develop cancer in the other breast, just when. So five weeks after the lumpectomy I had the bi-lateral mastectomy. When they performed the final biopsy I had DCIS in the right breast.

My first thoughts were that I would carry on my life as normal as possible. During chemo therapy and after hair loss, I realized that existing head coverage products made my head sweat!

A Personal Fitness Coach for ten years, I was determined to keep my business running and serve my clients as well as maintain my own well being through all the surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, I realized that I was going to need different types of exercise clothing.

I could still wear some of my looser shirts and cover them with jackets and vests, so that it wasn’t so obvious that I had undergone a bilateral mastectomy.

During one of my sleepless night I came up with the idea of cutting up old exercise tops that were made of wicking material to make caps that would be more functional. These first caps were a great improvement compared to the cotton caps that I had purchased. The caps wicked sweat away from my head and allowed me to be much more comfortable while exercising and they looked great! The Cool Chemo Cap™ was created.

The Cool Chemo Top™ was the next idea. Anyone who has ever undergone chemotherapy knows that one of the dreaded side effects is hot flashes and night sweats. After researching cancer internet sites I realized that there was no outerwear for women with mastectomies. There were undergarments, but not designed for an active lifestyle. So the idea of an active-wear top that you didn’t have to pull over your head that wicks away sweat and was flattering was the obvious next product.

The most unique feature on the Cool Chemo Top™ is the pockets that are discreetly hidden on the inside of the tops. These pockets are to hold the drains that all mastectomy patients and some lumpectomy patients have inserted after surgery and are sent home with, to collect the lymphatic fluid that results from lymph-node removal. The tops work great for reconstruction surgery too. Once the drains are taken out the pockets can be easily removed and the top can continue to worn. The tops also designed so that medical ports are easy to access and the arms are cut loose to allow for potential lymphedema.

The clothing can be used to exercise; dress up for an evening out or just wear in comfort going about your daily activities.

As Baby Boomers get older, more of us are going to be faced with cancer. I found that there are many women like me, who choose not to wear wigs and breast prosthesis. Also, more women and the medical community realize the value of exercising while going through treatment. Exercise not only helps you keep up your strength but also gives you the much needed mental boost.

While you may not have hair, eyebrows or eyelashes, women still put on their makeup to look the very best they can. It is important that your clothing fits well, is functional and is flattering whether you are exercising or just going about your normal life.

Confident Clothing Company was featured at the Monterey County, California American Cancer Society Fashion Show held March 20, 2009. We also partnered and participated in the Young Survivors Coalition in Dallas, Texas for their 9th annual conference.

The comment that I hear non-stop is “Where were you when I went through my surgery?”
And “What a great idea, I’m going to pass this information on to my surgeon.”

My passion is to provide inspiration and comfort for all women going through the breast cancer journey. It is a long haul and any way to make it easier is a step in the right direction.

1 comment:

Cristine said...

very nice post and inspiring to readers especially women with breast cancer or breast cancer survivors!