Helping Breast Cancer Survivors Feel Like Themselves Again

All too often, we encounter patients who, after undergoing a mastectomy, suffer the additional misfortune of a failed attempt at surgical reconstruction. The process can leave patients with uneven chest walls that rule out off-the-shelf prosthetic solutions. In these situations, women can sometimes go for years without being told that they might have other options.

When finding the right form, I always describe it as when a bride-to-be finds the perfect wedding dress and says, “This is it!” and they start crying. For many women, emotionally speaking, the arrival of a custom nipple or breast prosthetic is almost the same experience.

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 200,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but about 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United states are found in women younger than 45.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and at Chambers’ Apothecary, we carry a variety of products and services that are designed to help breast cancer survivors reclaim their lives and feel like themselves again.

Pink Perfect Adhesive Nipple Prosthetics

For women who have undergone unilateral or bilateral mastectomies, we offer adhesive nipple prosthetics by Pink Perfect. Each prosthetic is custom made by an artist based on a cast of the patient’s nipple before the procedure, a cast of her remaining nipple or she can select one from a book that resembles what she had before in terms of shape, size, color and texture. The prosthetics have a surgical-grade adhesive that can be worn for up to three weeks. It is waterproof so it can be worn in the shower, ocean or swimming pool, and flexible enough to move with the person as she performs her daily activities.

ContourMed Breast Forms

ContourMed Breast Forms are, generally speaking, for women who have tried several other options, and they were either not a candidate for certain procedures or they unsatisfied with the results. Perhaps their reconstruction failed and trying again is no longer an option. In these cases where previous attempts at reconstruction have left her chest walls scarred or uneven so off-the-shelf prosthetics leave gaps, ContourMed Breast Forms are the best available solution to make her feel like herself again.

First, we scan the patient to create an image that we can send to ContourMed, and they make the form that uniquely fits that patient. The process typically takes three to four weeks from scan through delivery, and they are detail-focused to match skin color, nipple color and other qualities.

ContourMed Breast Forms are prescribed based on medical necessity, so patients who aren’t good candidates for an off-the-shelf solution, then this would be our next step. Most commercial insurances cover it as long as there is a medical necessity form, and as always, we take care of the paperwork to see if you are approved.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

If you haven’t heard, Chambers’ Wellness Center – located upstairs from Chambers’ Apothecary – is now open and fully operational, and one of the services they provide is Lymphatic Drainage Massage. Many mastectomy patients have their lymph nodes removed, which can leave them susceptible to lymphedema. For this reason, we have always carried arm sleeves and gloves to help manage lymphedema, but now our own Randi Weist administer can show you how to perform a Lymphatic Drainage Massage to help keep it under control.

Don’t go another day without feeling like yourself. If you have any questions or would like to be fitted for a prosthetic, visit us in downtown Chambersburg or call us to discuss your options.

Nancy Mazariegos
DME Specialist and Mastectomy Fitter
Chambers’ Apothecary
278 Lincoln way East
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Spreading the Word About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. With that being said, approximately one in eight women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. However, millions of women are surviving this disease thanks to early detection and improvements in treatment.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.

It is still a mystery as to why some women get breast cancer, but there are a number of risk factors. Risks that you cannot change include:

  • Age: the chance of getting breast cancer rises as a woman gets older.
  • Genes: there are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 that greatly increase the risk. Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested.
  • Personal factors: beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55.

Other risk factors include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy (also called menopausal hormone therapy), taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35 or having dense breasts.

Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from a nipple. Breast self-exams and mammography can help find breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Treatments may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotheraphy and hormone therapy.

The American Cancer Society is actively fighting breast cancer by helping women get tested, helping them understand their treatment options and to also cope with the physical and emotional effects. Whether you’re trying to reduce your risk of breast cancer, increase the chance of early detection, or coping with a diagnosis, The American Cancer Society has comprehensive information to help you understand your options. To learn more about The American Cancer Society and the fight against breast cancer, please visit: