Chemotherapy can be an aggressive form of breast cancer therapy. The drugs administered during chemotherapy attack cancer cells, but also attack healthy cells. As a result, chemotherapy drugs can cause the hair to break close to the scalp. Which can result into the hair thinning a little bit, partial, or patchy loss of hair, or even complete loss of hair (alopecia). This side effect is only temporary, and will gradually wear off after chemotherapy treatment has ended. Hair loss is not something to be ashamed about, and you shouldn’t feel that you must hide it. But we understand that it is not pleasant when people stop to stare in the street. There are many ways for the hair loss to be concealed.
One option is through the use of a hat. Hats are a popular alternative and come in hundreds of different shapes, styles and colors. Department stores usually have a good selection, and there are also specialist hat shops that exist. However, a hat alone does not completely conceal patchy and complete hair loss. Sometimes an additional wig underneath a hat can make it look more real. Scarves are another alternative. They also are available in a wide variety of colors and materials,. In addition, they are light and easy to wear, making them more suitable for warm weather. Cotton, lightweight wool or blends are the best fabrics, as satin type materials tend to slide off the head too easily. Scarves usually have instructions and suggestions on how to tie them.
You may like to try the following basic style:
- Lay a square scarf flat; wrong side facing you.
- Fold the scarf diagonally into a triangle. For a basic head wrap you will need a scarf at least 75cm x 75cm; for more elaborate styles it needs to be 100cm x 100cm.
- Place the scarf on your head with the folded edge about 2.5cm below your natural hairline and the points at the back.
- Tie the ends into a double knot behind your head over the triangle point (if you are doing more than the basic head wrap you may only need a single knot). The flap should be underneath the knot. Pull any excess scarf out from under the knot.
When it comes to buying even the most basic clothes, women who have undergone breast surgery can run into problems. Breast cancer patients often feel self-conscious about the scars left by surgery, and find that their old clothing might reveal too much. There are available solutions.
Women who have undergone a mastectomy have a wide range of clothing to choose from, that can help them conceal scaring, and the breast they lost to cancer. There are for example mastectomy t-shirt’s, skirtini’s, sleepwear, tanktops, and nightgowns. These specially designed clothes help conceal scarring, but are also make wearing breast forms easier. These clothes have higher cuts around the neck and under the arm. You can try looking at your local department store, but it is always worth checking out specialty shops at the medical center where you were treated.
When it comes to clothing, swimsuits are often one of the biggest challenges for women who suffered from breast cancer. It can be embarrassing for some women that their scars can be seen when wearing swimsuits. This can be solved by wearing a swimsuit with a high neckline, and a high cut under the arms. Just because you have had breast surgery, doesn’t mean you can’t wear a two piece bathing suit any more. Certain manufactures offer special pocketed mastectomy bathing suit bras with molded cups. Suitable swimsuits might also be available through your normal department stores, but you may also want to try the specialist shops.
Not all women who undergo a mastectomy will want to have reconstructive surgery, but they will still want sexy lingerie options. Times have improved from when mastectomy bras looked like something your great-grandmother would have found too clunky. Victoria’s Secret hasn’t picked up the trend yet, but there are several other lingerie manufacturers who have, including Playtex, Jodee, and Amoena, which sell all kinds of bras: plunging, lacy, demure, strapless, and sporty.
The local department store might not carry the mastectomy bras, but you should be able to find them in specialty shops (maybe found in the medical center where you were treated). Ordering online is also an option. If you want even more options, some department stores, notably Nordstrom’s, will often add prosthesis pockets at little or no charge to any bra you purchase from them.
After your surgery is completed, you doctor will probably advise you to avoid underwire bras, especially if your lymph nodes were removed. This because the wire from the bra can easily jab you in an area that’s lost some sensation after surgery, which can cut your skin leaving you open for infection. Avoiding underwire bras can cause some problems for large-breasted women. Some women have found a solution, through purchasing underwire bras sold in maternity stores. These bras often have a short wire, making it extremely unlikely that it will ever poke out or up in the wrong place.