Nancy had been a client of Allure Intimate Apparel for several years when she came in quietly asking to speak to the manager to review our store exchange policy. After I explained the policy to her, she matter-of-factly stated, “I was just diagnosed with breast cancer and it looks like I’ll be losing all the breast tissue I have. When all is said and done, I have no idea what size I’ll need.” This was a situation outside anything I’d dealt with, but under the circumstances, I authorized a return and encouraged Nancy to keep in touch with me about how she was feeling. I assured her that in the meantime I would reach out to plastic and reconstructive surgeons to gain an education regarding the best post-surgical bra options. I met with several local plastic surgeons including Nancy’s doctors at Froedtert Hospital and Medical College of Wisconsin. It seemed Allure already stocked several good options in our regular inventory, one from an Italian designer with a buttery soft material including bamboo and cotton fibers, and another wire-free seamless design to provide light, even compression which is especially useful post surgically.
In my discussions with medical professionals, it became apparent I could use my knowledge as a trained bra fitter to assist surgeons in understanding the complex system of bra sizing. Simply stated, there is no direct conversion between cc’s and bra cup size. A 300cc implant in a woman wearing a size 38 bra band could equate to her needing a D cup. That same 300cc volume in a woman wearing a size 32 bra band would equate to a G cup in the US bra sizing guide. Every plastic surgeon I spoke with agreed; this was very useful information for both physicians and their patients, especially if implants were the best reconstructive option.
Women began coming into our store more and more often referred by the clinics and hospitals where my staff and I had made connections. These brave, beautiful, sometimes terrified women were so thankful for our professional knowledge, our soft bras, and our kindness. It was fulfilling to see these relationships develop as we assisted our clients from post surgery through reconstruction and well beyond.
Nancy’s husband called asking if I would be at work all day, explaining she had just had reconstructive Diep flap surgery and had drainage tubes in, but needed a bra for comfortable compression. I was so glad to be able to assist her and felt privileged to have earned her trust to see her so soon after such a significant procedure. I have since seen Nancy through her successful recovery, complete with beautiful 3D nipple tattoos! She has an extremely hopeful future, is back to work and exercise, wearing beautiful colorful 36G bras!
I’m so thankful to Nancy for planting that initial seed, providing inspiration to explore the crossroads where the world of bra fitting and post breast cancer reconstruction meet. The relationship between a small family-owned bra fitting shop and a world-renowned breast reconstructive surgery department may sound unlikely, but to the women we both help, it’s a perfect pairing.