Breast Cancer Clothing: Bras, Scarves, Accessories, and More
Women with breast cancer today have a mind-boggling array of options, from wigs and scarves to specialty bras and swimsuits.
In the Swim
Like bras, swimsuits for women who've had breast cancer have taken a great
leap forward over the past several years. "The suits are out of this
world," says Marianne Kelly, founder and director of the Image Recovery
Center at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
"There are two-pieces, one-pieces, skirted suits, tankinis, detachable
skirts, sarongs that match, and more athletic suits that fit higher at the top
and provide more support."
The most up-to-date, contemporary swimsuit styling comes from a line called
Anita, Sloan-Kettering's McLeod tells WebMD. "They have the most stylish,
but they're also higher priced," she says. "Amoena also has a fabulous
line, and we rely on them for a lot of body styles that other manufacturers
don't make, like a blouson suit."
The most popular swimsuit style for women who've had a mastectomy, says
McLeod, is the tankini. "When you're wearing a one-piece suit, every time
you have to take it down to go to the bathroom, the breast is going with the
swimsuit. Women have just snapped up the tankinis, and there is a wealth of
designs in sizes from 6 to 26." Other companies making mastectomy swimsuits
include It Figures, T.H.E., and Gottex.
Kelly would still like to see manufacturers offer some other options, like
tops. "I think it's something we'll see in the future -- more athletic and
sportswear that will allow women a little more freedom about wearing prostheses
and feeling confident."
From the Top Down
For women undergoing chemotherapy, hair loss can be extremely traumatic.
Having the right head covering -- a great-fitting wig, a comfortable scarf that
you know how to tie, or a stylish hat -- can help you feel a little more
"you" and a little less "cancer patient."
Most of the time, says Kelly, women are looking for a wig that will closely
resemble their own hair. "They don't want to draw attention to the change,
especially in the workplace," she says.
Wigs come in several types: synthetic, 100% human hair, or a blend. True
European virgin hair wigs can cost $2,000 or more, while you can buy a
synthetic wig for less than $100. Most insurers will pay for a prescribed
"cranial prosthesis," but probably not for the priciest of the
How can you decide what kind of wig is right for you? Each style has
advantages and disadvantages, in addition to price. "Synthetic wigs are
wash-and-wear, and very easy to maintain," says Kelly. "On the other
hand, you don't get the movement that you would with real human hair. Usually,
if someone's very visible and is very concerned with people detecting that
they're wearing a wig, they'll go with human hair, understanding that the
maintenance and cost are a little more than with synthetic."