As we head into the winter months, be thinking about summertime and the small alterations that need to be made to your swim suit. Swimming is a good form of exercise — any time of the year — is a terrific way to strengthen your body before, during, and after breast cancer treatment. There’s nothing like a cool swim on a hot day to relax your mind and refresh your spirit — just be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.Before you start thinking about bathing suits, remember this comforting thought: most women are self-conscious in a bathing suit, whether they’ve been through breast cancer treatment or not. Still, we put up with them because they’re part of the summer package that also includes swimming; a warm, relaxing environment; and outdoor fun.
Sure, there are some women who are completely at-ease in a bathing suit. But if you’re having any feelings of insecurity, look up and down the beach or around the poolside. You’ll see all kinds of bodies: small, medium, large, extra-large. They’re all okay; remember perfection doesn’t exist, well maybe after they have been airbrushed in a magazine, which are not real women. So don’t waste your precious energy on feeling insecure. Instead, use it for pleasant and interesting thoughts, fun, and sharing time with friends and family.
If you’ve recently had surgery for breast cancer, you may be wondering what your options are for buying a bathing suit that’s comfortable for you.
Several bathing suit brands are designed for women who have had breast cancer surgery (mastectomy or lumpectomy). These suits have higher necklines and armholes, to conceal scars. They also have built-in bra pockets for securing breast forms (prostheses) if you have not had reconstruction.
Amoena and It Figures are companies that make bathing suits designed for women who have had breast cancer surgery. Lands’ End offers built-in pockets in many of their swimsuit styles. You may not need a specially designed bathing suit. If you find standard swimwear that you like, the retailer might be able to add a breast form bra pocket to the inside of the suit. Some stores charge for this service, others don’t.
For those who want a do it yourself and can sew a straight seem; buy a remnant of Lycra type material used for lingerie (ensure it has stretch capabilities). Measure the breast area of your suite, cut the material approximately ¼ of an inch larger, to make a pocket once sewn. Line up the seams of material to the breast area of your suite and pin on the sides and bottom, insert the prosthesis to measure, make adjustments if needed, then sew the seams. Leave the opening at the top to enable your prosthesis to fit snugly into the pocket, and “ta da” you are done.
If you have not had reconstruction and do use breast forms, you may consider getting a swim form, which is like a conventional breast form but much lighter. Although weighted forms are good for everyday use — to maintain balance and protect against back and neck pain — they may be uncomfortable or just downright heavy when swimming.
Swim forms are less dense and float better than weighted forms. Made from clear silicone, they’re designed to allow water to flow naturally across the chest. Some attach into the bathing suit with fabric tabs, to prevent unexpected “pop-up” moments. Built-in pockets also hold them in successfully. Whichever suite or prosthesis you choose to wear, remember, summer is about having fun with friends and family. Enjoy yourself and laugh! As my friend, Sandy always said, “laughter is the best medicine”.