A perfect fit?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one… 

So, a cancer patient walks into a bra shop.

What, no punchline?

Never heard that joke before?

That’s cause it’s no joke.  Can you imagine, walking into a bra shop and asking the nice older lady to fit a bra for your right boob only?

Well, I did just that yesterday, in a desperate attempt to find something, anything, that will hold my right breast up and distribute the weight across my back instead of straining the muscle each and every day. 

The nice older lady was … no help.  The young one with the spiky hair was … scared off, I think.  And the blonde?  Just passed me off to the other two.

I didn’t think it would be so hard.  I didn’t think it would be hard on me to walk into a bra shop, surrounded by lace and spandex, seeing all those pretty things for people with two, healthy, medium sized breasts.  I didn’t think that it would hit me so hard, realizing that this shop will be … useless for me in a few months.

Realizing that, come January, I will never have to wear a bra again if I don’t want to.  That I won’t have anything to put in it except silicone and stuffing.  That the weight on my chest really will come off, and I can throw all those confining, stifling, contraptions of lace and spandex away.

It sounds liberating in retrospect.

But in the store, it hit me all at once.  There is nothing here that will fit me, I thought, realizing that I am now two different sizes, with my right side swollen by inflammatory breast cancer, and my left side returning to normal after years (literally, years) of nursing my little ones.  And soon, there is nothing here that I will need.  Sobering.  Frustrating.  But soon, liberating.

Soon, liberating.

Soon.

Check out DC Metro Moms Blog on Monday for a new post by Whymommy, called Mommy’s little shopping secret, an adorable picture of Little Bear in a hat, and several posts about the bloggers’ meetup with Elizabeth Edwards! 

23 Responses to A perfect fit?

  1. deb says:

    I have no luck in bra shops either and not because of IBC. My youngest weights 90 lbs and her boobs are 32E, which blew my whole skinny girls don’t have big boobs theory out of the water. She’s also special needs and requires a bra that is not a sexy push up bra. Tough to find. If you can find a shop with a European saleslady you may have more luck, we finally found a shop that could help us, but it took awhile. Good luck sweetie.

    And yeah, it’s weird how you think you’ve gotten used to something and then something small and everyday happens, like shopping for a bra and you get slapped in the face with how much things have changed and it starts to hurt all over again, but in a different way.

  2. Oh, damn. The older lady should have been able to be helpful.

    I think deb’s right about the older European salesladies, often found in the lingerie section of the larger department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. They really know what they’re doing.

  3. Just delurking after reading faithfully to tell you that you’re still in my prayers.

  4. Yep. The only place in the states I’ve had good luck is here: http://www.myintimacy.com/findastore.html

  5. BetteJo says:

    No advice from me, I’ve never been fitted for a bra in my life, I’m sure Stacey and Clinton would be horrified.
    Sending hugs!

  6. Imstell says:

    WhyMommy,
    I had a similar experience but after I’d had my initial reconstruction. For several months I was a large D on my belly boob side and slowly moving towards a firm C on my implant side. The belly boob was as large as my belly fat would allow since we didn’t know how big I would want to go with the implant & I had been a natural 42E.

    Since I had no idea what size I was post-surgery I had to get fitted. Thankfully, I did have an older saleslady (& the owner of the store). My scars are pretty extensive & patchworkish. I’m sure the tiny little college chickies would have been horrified to help me. If you live close to a metropolitan area, which I believe you do, I would go to your local cancer center for a fitting. Not only have the women there seen it all and heard it all, but they are full of quite useful information. I must say their products are grossly expensive (but usually covered by insurance if your doc gives you an RX). However, you can get fitted thru then then take those measurements and use them online.

    And Hugs on the whole experience. There are few things quite as humbling. I used to think bra shopping was bad pre-cancer… ha!

  7. Whymommy… I sure wish I was closer, because this is one area where I could help you!! I do know about corsetry from my costuming experience, and would HIGHLY recommend a shop in our area, that is a gorgeous lingerie store, but also specializes in just what you need. Here is the website… You can look under the “customer” section, and will see that they are absolutely aware (and extremely capable) of fitting both pre and post surgical customers:

    http://www.melmira.com/

    The owners are simply wonderful, and had a beautiful exhibit at a breast cancer fundraising event I was a part of a few years ago. I’m sure they’d be really happy to help you, if you were to email them. They might know of a store down in your area where you could shop…

    Having undergarments properly fitted, so that they make you both feel and look better, is so important!! And, it’s all about wonderful, caring service, so that the experience is a positive one.

    BTW, there’s something you might be interested in seeing over and my place…

    http://icanflyjustnotup.blogspot.com/2007/09/today-at-terry-fox-run.html

    Just especially for you.

    Lots of love, as always,

    xo CGF

  8. canape says:

    It’s not clear what kind of shop you went to, but I’m guessing it’s not a “Bra Nazi” shop like Pennyrich Bra Patch.

    I’m going to give you brands rather than shops because I don’t know your area. But Imstell is right – ask the cancer center (but I’m thinking you probably have already). There should be a store that specializes in fitting breast cancer patients.

    Try the Goddess bras. I just bought GD2066 from the Comfort Line. No underwire and plenty of room.

    I also love my Felina bras and Freya bras. Plenty of room and lots of support.

    Deb, your first commenter, might look at the Freya bras too. They have large cup sizes with small band sizes. Because yes, skinny girls can have big boobs.

    I’ll keep looking for a specific store in your area, but I think you’ll have better luck with the cancer center.

    Good luck! If you can’t find anything there, I say, ROAD TRIP! I’ll take you to Pennyrich and we’ll do lunch😉

  9. Stimey says:

    Oh, WhyMommy, that sounds like a terrible experience. I’m so sorry that they weren’t able to help you AT ALL. I hope you’re able to find someone who can help you soon.

  10. bon says:

    your capacity to describe both the pain of change and the hope of liberation, of a better after, always draws me in and moves me, Whymommy. i’m sorry for the forever loss of your seemingly simple place in the world of lace and spandex…and at the same time i do hope your liberation from the weight of that right breast and the general silliness of bras comes soon.

    and about that ‘after’…i’m sure you’re a kickass scientist, but you’re a pretty compelling writer too, just in case you think you might like some kinda career change.

  11. chrissy says:

    I just posted about you and copied your July 23rd post over at my blog. I don’t know how to copy the button, I’m a newbie, but you are in my prayers and I wanted you to know.

  12. Canape, you rock.

    Smiles to you WM, and love.. and here’s to liberation.

  13. Karen says:

    (feel free to edit/delete this comment as needed, but I don’t know a better way to get the information to you)

    I know you’re somewhere in the DC metro area–I’ve heard lots of good things about Cheryl’s Health Boutique (cherylshealthboutique.com) on Shady Grove Rd in Rockville. I’ve been there for breast pump supplies, but they have mastectomy bras, etc. I’ve heard that Anne Allen is a master (mistress?) bra fitter. Maybe she would be able to help you.

    Been reading you for months, continuing to pray for you and your family. Hope this is helpful to you.

  14. KH says:

    WhyMommy – We have a GREAT bra shop in St. Louis – brashop.com. Maybe they could recommend a place close to you or even a style that might help and you could order it or find it in you area. (PS – you don’t have to publish this, I just couldn’t find your email address.) Hang in there!

  15. My blog is going pink for you this month!

  16. Ally says:

    As if bra shopping isn’t frustrating enough, even under the best of circumstances… I am surprised that no one was able to help. But I’m not surprised by your good attitude, because I’ve come to expect it. Liberating indeed.

  17. Damselfly says:

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience and wish you could have found some people more understanding and willing to help.

  18. magnetobold says:

    Well that is just horrendous. It is a bra shop for crying out loud! Surely they have had this situation before!!!!!! When my mum had her mastectomy she had a wonderful woman help fit her, and she went back to the same woman after her reconstruction. Now women are traveling hours to come to this little shop in the country (Australia though, sorry WhyMommy)cause this woman is caring, understanding and good at fitting!
    Feedback to the owner of this shop is in order. Want me to do it for you?

  19. Susan K says:

    Well, my suggestion is going to pale in comparsion to all the wonderful advice presented here already…. I was going to say, hard as it might be, to try a maternity store for a nursing bra? And I’ve heard people say over and over that Penny’s has the best fitters…

    Good luck and focus on the future liberation!

  20. amanda says:

    This isn’t about me, but whenever I come here, my heart swells and it feels as if my body can’t contain it. You are such a force, WM. I wish I could do more than sit and wrack my brain for ways to help. This odyssey you are on, solitary and yet not, is incredible. We are with you and it may be inappropriate, but I can’t help imagining you as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, going through that boutique and being treated unconscionably and then later going back all full of sass.

    So, for what it’s worth, I am here, and thinking of the better times I know are ahead of you.

  21. Andrea says:

    I’d imagine you’ve gotten all kinds of helpful links to places but here’s another one: http://www.brashop.com

    It’s called Ann’s Bra Shop, and I think they might deal over the Internet. I do know that their sign at my local store says it’s a Mastectomy Center, so they have experience with fitting women in your situation. They’re located in St. Louis, which, if I read Midwestern Mommy’s post right, you might have family here since I think you married one of her childhood classmates and her brother married into your family. Maybe there are people you know that could help, or maybe you could call and see if the Ann’s staff can recommend someone in your area.

    I hope you find something to help.

  22. Sandy says:

    I don’t know if I am repeating something…but look up post mastectomy specialist stores. I know you aren’t post mast. but the idea is they should be able to find you a bra that will fit just one side since not everyone gets both taken off.

    Good luck and you are ALWAYS in my thoughts.

    *hugs*

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