Your Wardrobe After Breast Cancer


 One breast cancer related problem has to do with our clothing and how it fits during treatment and at the end of active treatment. Most women deal with this problem as a result of breast size changes from surgery and/or changes that happen from having chemotherapy, radiation and/or hormone therapy.

Preparations can be made in advance of surgery for loose fitting tops that open down the front and don't need to be pulled on over the head.

These tops can be comfortably worn over the surgical area and drains, if you have a mastectomy.The same tops can have additional usage in accommodating the port inserted for chemotherapy infusions. You will get plenty of use out of such tops, as they are perfect for the weeks of radiation following a lumpectomy. Wearing a bra during radiation can be very uncomfortable as the radiation site becomes red and is sometimes sore from treatment. Clothing that can be easily slipped on and off and is loose fitting is always a good choice when in treatment for chemotherapy or radiation.

It is very hard to anticipate preparing for how your clothes will fit after having a lumpectomy, or a mastectomy with or without reconstruction until this situation becomes a reality.

If you are having reconstruction for a mastectomy, you may look unbalanced in your clothing until you have completed the reconstruction process, which may take more than one surgery.

Bulky sweaters, in the cold months, worn over a blouse go a long way to disguise an uneven look. Loose jackets, over blouses will work in the warm weather.

If you are not having reconstruction, you will not be able to be fitted for a prosthesis until your doctor feels you are sufficiently healed, which may be a month or more after your mastectomy or bilateral mastectomy surgery.

Loose fitting tops will be best during this time, under a jacket or sweater.

Following a lumpectomy, depending on the amount of breast tissue removed during surgery, you may look unbalanced and need a small prosthesis designed just for the purpose of making both breasts look the same. You will need to wait until after you have completed radiation to be fitted. Loose fitting tops,or bulky sweaters will  work well in disguising the balance problem.

Most of us face some sort of weight loss or weight gain depending on our treatments. Chemo can cause weight gain, as can taking oral hormone therapy for 5 years following active treatment to prevent a recurrence.

If you find your weight changes are not extreme enough to require clothing size changes, you may be able to utilize some of the basic pieces that you already own. A belt here or a scarf there can shape a look that does the trick. A loose-fitting sweater over a top that has become a little snug may be a perfect solution for extra warmth.

Running your outfit makeovers by your sister or friend will give you the confidence to go public with your new look.

If you can afford to, a shopping spree is a good idea; a few new outfits can really raise the spirits.

After breast cancer treatment, a lot of us are short on funds. If you need new clothes but funds are limited, thrift stores are always a great place to look for whatever your clothing needs may be. Everything is freshly washed and/or cleaned before being place on sale, which is of course, always a major concern. Most towns have at least one thrift store, with more organizations such as the American Cancer Society opening outlets that are similar.

Edited by: Jean Campbell

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