Tuesday 30th September 2014
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Department of: simple things that shouldn’t be so hard

care bra Those of you who’ve had cancer, and I know that’s at least a few of you, are familiar with the  parallell universe that is Cancerland, a strange destination where everything tries its best to be business as usual, but nothing really is. And when you’ve lost a breast in the bargain, the haze of recovery becomes just that much thicker. A dear friend is inhabiting her own personal Cancerland right now, and she’s handling it with unimaginable amounts of grace and good humor. She has requested that I find her some attractive mastectomy bras (does it surprise any of you to learn that people are forever delegating shopping tasks to me in times of crisis?) and this has turned out to be about as simple as locating an English-speaking puppy. What is wrong with this world, people?  How nuts is it that at the very moment in a woman’s life when her sense of femininity has been most compromised, she can not find a bra that makes her feel like a woman? We did locate this one, from Dutch lingerie designer Marlies Dekkers; it’s called the Care Bra and comes in many colors and with all the right pockets and straps and adjusters. But it’s only available on her (Dutch) website, and after shipping fees and a less-than-ideal exchange rate, it’ll run you over $100. More affordable options include a couple from Royce, like this black number with just a little bit of lace, and  this one, which is a little more straightforward. I also found this nude bra from Amoena, which is nice and minimal and pretty much exactly what my favorite t-shirt bras all look like.

But mostly I found myself disappointed: by all the cute little lingerie boutiques here in Manhattan with nothing to offer, and the big department stores that unilaterally came up empty too. Victoria’s Secret almost did the right thing a few weeks ago when, in response to a change.org petition with over 128,000 signatures, they announced they’d start manufacturing mastectomy bras. And then just as quickly backed out, explaining that “Through our research, we have learned that fitting and selling mastectomy bras in the right way…is complicated and truly a science.” Nobody, of course, has more resources and money to devote to creating and marketing whatever kind of bra they want than Victoria’s Secret, so I’m not quite buying that. But I am hoping they’ll change their minds.

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Posted on May 28th, 2013 20 Comments

20 Responses

  1. Deirdre says:

    Nordstrom will sew in pockets to any bra for free.

  2. Maria says:

    I was just about to post the same thing – Nordstrom offers an in-store prosthesis program that was very lovely and helpful.

    A link for more information:

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/breast-prosthesis-program

  3. Debbie says:

    Me three. My mom is going through this currently & Nordstroms has been the best source for her. They also helped her find local sources fora variety of prothesis. (Waterproof! Who knew?) Healing vibes & best wishes for your friend outgoing …

  4. blackbird says:

    I’m happy to read about Nordstrom in the comments, not surprised at what you found and commend you for being a good friend.

  5. Suz says:

    I have a friend who has been to Cancerland more than once; am passing this along to her as she is now an emissary to newcomers. This is a good mission :) You are a good friend.

    And boo VS and yay to Nordies. I am not surprised by either of those.

  6. Karen says:

    That Amoena Lara bra is a great one – I work at a bra fitting salon and a lot of ladies love that bra for just the reason you mentioned – it’s a very basic t-shirt bra.

    Anita also offers a lot of great choices, including a range of swimwear designed to work with prosthetics. This one is particularly cute and comes in black, cream, and RED. :)
    http://www.anita.com/us-en/Products,Anita_care,Care_lingerie,Product_overview:5777X_Post%20mastectomy%20bra

    You are wonderful for being there for your friend in her time of need. Much love to the both of you in this tough time.

  7. marjorie says:

    best wishes and healing thoughts to your friend.

  8. Tracy says:

    Another comfortable option with pockets is made by Handful (www.handful.com). Best wishes to your friend. I know first hand that she has a challenging road ahead – shouldn’t have to do it with an uncomfortable bra!

  9. Beth Ellen says:

    Yes, please check out Handful–made in the USA!
    http://www.handful.com

  10. Kate says:

    Sending healing and happy thoughts to your friend! You’re a great friend for searching.

    I’d ditto the Nordstroms recommendation and I think your friend should maybe look into a local specialty lingerie store. I live in Milwaukee and one of the local specialty stores (Allure, which Oprah apparently loves?) advertises mastectomy bra fittings. I’ve gone there for bra fittings and it was a really positive experience. Very body positive and also professional which I feel like helps in any situation.

  11. Traci says:

    I have a hard time finding an affordable bra I love now, how horrible that in such a delicate time a woman can’t just go to Victoria’s Secret. Sad. I’m sorry for your friend, I hope she beats what she is dealing with.

  12. Traci says:

    I just read the comments, very classy that Nordstrom offers the option.

  13. Julie says:

    Thank you for linking to the change.org petition and for writing this post.

  14. e.w. says:

    Linda the Bra Lady— best in the biz and right in the hood –
    Murray Hill @552 3rd Avenue
    and @828 Lexington Avenue

  15. Mallory says:

    Nordstrom has specific staff that are trained to fit MX -call ahead for an appointment so you can make sure to get the right person. I will also add that they were wonderful in helping me find a bra after my double mastectomy with implants. The implants give a bit of strange bustline that the right bra can help correct.

    I was also very disappointed in VS-honestly I have a suspicion that when they started looking into how their bras would visually look on us they did not want the association.

  16. Donna says:

    It is indeed sad that it’s hard for women to find these. So many women are getting breast cancer these days that it should be easier. Then again, since I grew larger than a 38C it’s been hard to find a regular bra that looks decent. I found a lot of plus-size bras on her room.com. Maybe they have some for mastectomies.
    Nordstrom never fails to disappoint when it comes to Customer Service, do they?
    Best wishes to your friend. Just being there if she needs to talk is often the greatest thing. I often felt alone when I was in Cancerland. It’s nice just to know someone will be there if you need them.

  17. There are so many women out there, like my mom, who have survived breast cancer but are left feeling altered and uncomfortable because of undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. I think they deserve to feel beautiful and Victoria’s Secret is the perfect company to help make that happen with a line of “Survivor” mastectomy bras.

  18. Hedy says:

    Marks & Spencers has a number of different mastectomy bras – I don’t know if any count as pretty but most are inexpensive and the postage costs aren’t that high. They also do mastectomy swimwear.

  19. Amy in StL says:

    Has anyone here actually ever been fitted for a bra at Victoria’s Secret? I have never had them fit me correctly; so it’s probably better that they don’t offer bras for mastectomies. Maybe they realize their staff isn’t really trained enough to do their current job well and so they probably shouldn’t be screwing up cancer survivors lives too.