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Lymph-what-oedema

Primary & Secondary Lymphoedema Online & in the Community

Boobs Bras and Lymphoedema

Author: Gaynor Leech, Founder of L-W-O

In the past I have only written about this briefly and if at times this subject appears insensitive then I am sorry, but this is part of my journey and the difficulties I dealt with and still deal with are real.

A recap for those that don’t know, in 2010 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, picked up in a routine mammogram through the NHS Breast Screening service, mine was not a lump it was in the tissue.  It was at a very early stage and for a couple weeks nobody was 100% until the results of the biopsy/histology reports came back. I had what was known as a DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) and explained by my breast consultant as tiny grains of sand. I had a Wide Local Excision and two Sentinel Nodes  removed. everything moved very fast and my feet really didn’t touch the ground, but my long-term prospects were good.  By this time, it was Christmas and seeing my Breast Consultant who told me to “go home enjoy Christmas and the next 20 Christmases”.

 

Please always go for your mammogram - mine saved my life

 

The relief was immense but as a precaution while my Breast Consultant was sure he had removed it all, he suggested I had radiotherapy to mop up any remaining cells.  In the February I started my radiotherapy which apart from the extreme tiredness I thought compared to many of my friends I had sailed through.  Little did I know the massive lifestyle change that was waiting for me.

My skin was in very good condition despite the radiotherapy but my boob was hard, misshapen, heavy and my nipple seemed to drop with a fold that is a daily infection risk even now.  Pins and needles are ever present and at the end of the day tiredness and excruciating pain make me want to scream.  In May 2011 explaining the symptoms to my oncologist and after an examination she said, “I am sorry you have lymphoedema”. My response “Lymph What”?

Learning about Lymphoedema and the massive change in lifestyle was daunting but part of my psyche has always been when someone tells me I can’t do something I tend to ask, “why not?”  I must be one of the very few people around who is not angry at having lymphoedema and apart from the lack of education, information available at the time of my diagnosis it’s the side-effects that come with it that frustrate and irate.

Routine has become essential from daily skincare, massage, drinking enough water, movement, sleep and generally following a healthy lifestyle.  All very tedious on a day when you don’t want to get out of bed or you have 101 things that you need to do and you simply haven't got the energy. 

 

Self-care however wearing is so important

 

This is where my bra became one of my biggest irritations because there has yet to be a bra invented that fits a lymphie breast and a non-lymphie breast at the same time, that will give the support I need, feel comfortable enough to wear all day, and even if it is not seen under my clothes makes me feel feminine.

In the beginning I had three bra changes a day, sometimes more. From shower to lunchtime I could probably get away with a D cup, from lunchtime to teatime a DD cup and by the end of the day there was no accounting for size as my boob was so swollen and painful further exasperated by the deep indentations on my skin and under my arms from an ill-fitting bra.  Not good for lymphoedema.

Top Tip

When buying a new bra always get professionally measured - breast clinics or major high street stores can do this
 

This leads to another irritation the battle of the boobs.  Lymphoedema right boob swollen, painful, heavy screaming to be let out of the tight constraints and my left boob by the end of the day flopping about in a cup size that offered no support and screaming “what have I done to deserve this”.

As a woman I do not want my bra to have two-inch plus straps that will in inevitably leave indentations.  I want a bra that will move with me, one that preferably, I don’t know that I am wearing. I want side supports that fit comfortably, so that I don’t bulge out the side but won’t leave indentations and will expand when needed.

I want cotton inserts especially for those hot summer’s days. The back fastenings must be firm, preferably in my case four fastenings.  As we get older some of us have problems doing up and undoing bras and as every woman will tell you she has her own way of doing things.  Yet I have never found a front bra opening that’s attractive and will do all the above.  

 

Most of all I want COLOUR.

 

  • Why are specialist manufacturers so unimaginative?
  • Why can they only produce Beige, Black or White?
  • Whatever happened to matching underwear?

 

It took me four years to find a bra, that comes close to what I need, it expands with me where I need it, stays in shape on the side I don’t and most of all when I rip it off at night it stays its normal size. I want colour choice and maybe a little bow or pearl or both that nobody will probably see.  Dare I even ask if it will come with a matching pair of panties! 

I just want to feel good 

 

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