A breast cancer diagnosis can bring about a sea of emotions, from sadness and fear to determination and support to beat the disease. Summertime and swimsuit season can be particularly tough for some women undergoing breast cancer treatment, or who have had reconstructive surgery. The hunt for the right swimwear to fit a new body can sometimes be daunting and emotionally draining.
Baylor College of Medicine’s Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, a part of the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, is dedicated to not only preventing, treating and fighting breast cancer on a larger scale, but also to offering support and resources for women once they’ve completed treatment, and that includes helping women who struggle to rediscover the beauty in their own skins.
“I see many women who, after a mastectomy or reconstructive surgery, feel like they’ve lost a major component of their femininity,” said Dr. Polly Niravath, assistant professor in the Breast Center. “With so much focus in today’s society on perfect beach bodies, it can be difficult for some breast cancer patients and survivors to find that confidence and self-esteem.”
For swimsuit season, Niravath and Mari Rude, a nurse practitioner in the Breast Center, have identified some tips for keeping self-esteem up, and patients feeling as glamorous as ever.
“For those women who want to pursue breast prosthesis, there are many options available that create a natural silhouette without feeling bulky,” said Rude, who works with women to find the right prosthesis fit and shape.
There are also specialty stores and brands that have swimwear designed specifically for women who have had breast reconstruction surgery or mastectomies, such as Second Skin and Women’s Health Boutique in Houston.
Support groups can also provide a sense of community and encouragement for women going through, or who have completed, breast cancer treatment and surgery.
“Joining a support group can be extremely helpful for body confidence and self-esteem,” says Niravath. “I always encourage patients to attend a support group, where they often make long-time friendships and find a lasting source of encouragement and self-confidence.”