The importance of a fitting bra is undisputed and cannot be underestimated even and especially in the case of cancer patients who have had their breast removed.
Bras may not be considered the peak on their list of priorities but women who have undergone a mastectomy – in Malta about 120 a year – may think otherwise and the foundation that lobbies for their needs has seen to these too.
Specialised brassieres are from this week being provided to such women to complement the improved prosthesis they are also benefitting from following breast removal.
The specially-designed bras are among a number of essential donations the Action for Breast Cancer Foundation has made to Mater Dei Hospital.
“We trust that these brassieres will help women in their breast cancer journey and restore their confidence in their appearance,”said Esther Sant from the foundation.
“This gift should enhance the feel-good factor in the patient when she leaves the breast clinic with the correct prosthesis and a correctly-fitted bra.”
On Thursday, the hospital received a breast biopsy gun, costing €2,041, and a €3,318 pigmentation machine, another piece of equipment that also plays a role in the improved quality of life of cancer patients, both from the psychological and aesthetic point of view.
The mastectomy brassieres, which cost €35 each, were being provided for a period of two years, with an evaluation every six months, said Ms Sant, a breast cancer survivor herself.
“When patients are fitted with the new, free prosthesis, the nurse often finds they are wearing the wrong bra.
“The period after a mastectomy is highly critical for patients and they are usually very vulnerable. but, in this way, they could be spared lots of trouble in a trying moment.”
The pigmentation machine is also aimed at facilitating patients’ lives, enabling plastic surgeons to create a nipple on a newly-constructed breast.the new technology guarantees a more realistic result for breast plastic surgery candidates.
The biopsy gun was the second ABCF donated, the first having been given to St Luke’s Hospital in 2007, Ms Sant said. the efficient equipment reduces waiting time and anxiety for women who have detected a lump in their breast as the procedure can be immediately carried out in the clinic.
“Breast surgeons found the tool of extreme benefit and, since we have two of these doctors, it was agreed that both should have one each,” Ms Sant said. the foundation is continuing to lobby for a fully-accredited breast unit because it believes the service is fragmented and leaves “a lot to be desired”.
The new fitting room for breast prosthesis was considered an improvement in terms of space and lighting but it was “far away” from the breast clinic, Ms Sant pointed out.
ABCF offered constructive support to existing services in the belief that developing a give-and-take attitude would always benefit the patient, she said.