Women who have had breast cancer treatment can now browse for lingerie in the Nottingham Breast Institute’s bespoke bra shop, opening on Tuesday 18 October – timed to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The Bra Shop, will stock a full range of bras and swimwear designed especially for women who have had breast surgery. This will be the only hospital-based bra shop outside London. It is part of a £240,000 programme of improvements at the Breast Institute funded through Nottingham Hospitals Charity. Other improvements include a refurbished reception area.
Maureen Smart, service manager at the Breast Institute, says: “It is great that the Charity has funded this facility which offers choice and service to patients where they feel comfortable, they can see a full range of stock, and there is someone to help and advise. They can be fitted in an environment where it is safe to ask questions with fully trained people who understand the needs of this group of patients.”
As well as having pockets for prosthetics, mastectomy bras are non-wired, with seams stitched to a higher standard so they are softer and more comfortable. They are cut higher at the sides to give more support. The shop will also stock non-mastectomy lingerie.
Shopping for bras in mainstream stores can be daunting for women who have undergone surgery who may feel embarrassed about having a fitting. And although some of the larger stores stock mastectomy bras, they usually do not have a very big range and some women may feel embarrassed to ask about them.
Breast cancer patient Clare Perkins, from Sherwood, Nottingham says: “After my mastectomy I couldn’t wear any of my bras as they were uncomfortable and didn’t fit any more. I felt embarrassed going into a High Street store and asking for a fitting when I’d just had surgery. Plus they didn’t have a great range to choose from. It is excellent that Nottingham Hospitals Charity has funded this facility at the Breast Institute where you know people understand and are sympathetic to what you need.”
Another former patient, Jackie Bradley, from Nuthall, says: “After a mastectomy you have to pluck up courage to go into a high street store for a bra fitting and for some people that’s just too much, they’ll just make do. The last thing ou want to do is to talk to a sales assistant who’s never seen scars. It’s so much easier to reveal yourself to someone who understands, so this will make a huge difference. Getting the right bra, especially if it’s pretty too, is a big plus – a real confidence booster.”
Women can browse stock from five designers – Woman Zone, Amoena, Thamert Trulife and Anita – and get expert advice and fittings from specially trained volunteers. The shop will also stock non-mastectomy bras.
Members of the Nottingham Breast Cancer Support Group welcomed the move. Jackie Wheeler, Chair of the group, says: “We feel it will be an excellent facility to have in the Breast Institute enabling ladies to choose from a full range of mastectomy lingerie, nightwear and swimwear in easily accessible, familiar and feminine surroundings.”
A percentage of the profits will go to Nottingham Hospitals Charity.
Barbara Cathcart, Nottingham Hospitals Charity Chief Executive says: “We’re proud to have provided funding for this excellent facility which will enhance the service the Breast Institute provides and will mean patients who have gone through devastating diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer will have a place to go after their operation to choose lingerie in an environment where they will get support and understanding.”