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Summer Challenges for Mastectomy Patients and Breast Cancer Survivors

Summer presents many challenges for breast cancer survivors, especially those who've experienced mastectomies.
PUBLISHED June 01, 2016
Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
Ah, the wonderful days of summer! How I love them, especially when they're spent at the beach! For the past week, I've basked in the warmth of the beautiful Florida sun, felt the balmy ocean breeze upon my cheek and let the cares of the world slip far, far away. It was a lovely time to relax and refresh, but now that I'm back, I can't help but think of how things would have been very different had this trip been made before my surgery.

One thing I really enjoy while on a beach vacation is getting in the water. It doesn't really matter whether it's a pool or ocean, I just love the water. This year, I didn't get in a single time. The reason wasn't what you might think. I'm well-healed since having both of my breasts removed, so drains or open wounds wasn't the problem. The reason may seem prideful and silly, but I just didn't relish putting on a bathing suit without having breasts to fill it out. I knew I'd look like a freak of nature with two hollowed-out cavities in the chest wall of my suit. The only way to remedy that would have been if I'd had prostheses specifically made for swimming, but I didn't have any of those. I thought about trying to wear the microbead forms I made earlier this year, but was afraid if I lay back in the water to float, one of those little babies might escape and drift off out to sea. As much as it hurt, I had to just accept the fact that I wouldn't be in the water during this trip.

Even though I was unable to be in the water, I was still able to enjoy myself on our trip. I was extremely thankful that I'd thought to make myself some lightweight breast forms from microbeads. While they were lightweight and didn't cause me to sweat like my regular prostheses, they did create a few problems. The microbead forms were constantly shifting in my mastectomy bra. I found myself having to reposition them quite often, and every once in a while, I'd find them practically right underneath my chin. How embarrassing to have to turn around and push the "girls" down and force them to return to their native resting place. With them being so lightweight, I was unaware they were rising until I felt a little nudge under my chin. My family got a good laugh out of my traveling boobs, but I did not. It was frustrating to have them constantly moving instead of staying put like their silicone sisters did. 

Next year, I'm going to invest in a pair of swimmer's boobs. Technically that's not what they're called, but I kind of like that terminology, so I'm going to stick with it. I wish I'd thought to check online beforehand. Since I've returned from my Florida vacation, I've done research and have found swim forms are not terribly expensive. However, they are very different from my regular everyday silicone breast forms. The swimmer's boobs are hollowed out inside. I don't really know the reasoning behind that. Perhaps it's to allow water to fill them and help keep them in place while they're inside the bodice of a bathing suit. I'll feel a little more secure knowing I have breast forms that are safe to wear in the pool, ocean or hot tub and hopefully, I won't have to worry about a rogue breast form escaping from my suit and drifting away from me. 

Summertime presents many challenges for women who've had their breasts removed. It's important for us to be able to look and feel as normal as possible, while being comfortable at the same time. Mastectomy swim forms and mastectomy swimming suits are available. There are many sites from which to choose. Searching on a web browser using the words "mastectomy swimming form" or "swim form" will yield a number of results for breast forms that are suitable for use in the water. Also, using the words "mastectomy swim suit" or "mastectomy bathing suit" will produce results for various types of swimsuits with built-in pockets for prostheses.  

These are some of the sites I've checked out and hopefully they'll help you, too. There's no reason for breast cancer to keep us from doing the things we love to do, so be courageous and get out there!

Mastectomy Shop

TLC

The Pink Bra

Amoena
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