Like many women, breast cancer runs in my family. After my grandmother passed away from it years ago, (and let’s start off with a quick side bar to tell you all to pay attention to your bodies. My grandmother put off seeing a doctor years after feeling a lump that didn’t feel so right, which unfortunately led to it spreading elsewhere in her body and ultimately contributed to her death. Learn how to conduct a breast self-exam and do them! Talk to your doctor if you have questions! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends women over the age of 40 get mammograms every one to two years. Women under the age of 40 who have had breast cancer or other breast problems, or a family history of breast cancer may need them more often. Talk to your doctor about it. I’m serious. Really.) I remember my mother saying that if she ever felt a lump, or if there was ever any indication that she may have breast cancer, she would just want a mastectomy ASAP. The ease at which my mother said this could be attributed to the fact that she has small breasts. Or perhaps it was because she’s older and doesn’t necessarily feel as though her breasts have anything to do with her femininity. But I couldn’t believe how easy it was for her to come to that decision. Just like that. Get rid of my breasts. Personally, the thought of possibly losing my precious double Ds remains terrifying.
In the grand scheme of things, having to part with your breasts – and not your family, your friends, your life – and emerge from the mental and physical hell that is breast cancer a survivor, doesn’t seem like the worst trade off in the world, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s certainly not a fair one. The search for a proper-fitting bra seems like such an unnecessary burden for breast cancer survivors. After all the radiation and surgeries and chemotherapy, the absolute toll that breast cancer takes on your body, now you have to struggle to find a bra that fits, is attractive, and doesn’t break the bank too?
Allana Maiden is very aware of how difficult the post-mastectomy transition can be. Despite being cancer-free after undergoing a mastectomy twenty-one years ago, Maiden’s mother, Debbie Barrett, continues to experience frustration when it comes to finding a bra. Maiden decided to take charge and combat that struggle by posting a petition on change.org, calling for Victoria’s Secret to make “Survivor Bras” for women who have undergone a mastectomy. In the petition, which now has over 120,000 supporters, Allana writes:
Many women who undergo mastectomy surgery because of breast cancer suffer from body image issues. It doesn’t help that they don’t have the option of buying the pretty bras they wore before their battle with cancer, and speciality stores can be hard to find, forcing them to order bras online that they have to send back because they don’t fit properly.
Since launching the petition in early January, Tammy Roberts Myers, the vice president of communications for Limited Brands, the parent company to Victoria’s Secret., has invited Maiden and her mother to the company’s headquarters to meet with developers. Although we may be far off from seeing a Victoria’s Secret “Survivor’s Bra” in stores, it’s a small step towards lifting – if even a little bit – the burden upon breast cancer survivors. As Maiden wrote in her letter to Victoria’s Secret, “These inspiring women who have had mastectomy surgery as part of their treatment deserve to feel beautiful, too.”
Featured image via change.org