PUBLISHED: 16:26 14 April 2014
The consequences of dealing with the diagnoses of breast cancer are many and varied. Petra Hornsby talks to Michelle Grant Richardson of Boutique 65 about how she is helping women to receive the right support following surgery
The statistics are stark; one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and many will then go on to face the option of breast removal as part of their treatment. Those diagnosed with breast cancer come from all age groups, but regardless of age, the loss of a breast can mean an enormous change and challenge both physically and emotionally with women often mourning the loss of their femininity.
About 18,000 mastectomies are carried out each year in England (NHS Choices) and although the number is on the increase, only a small proportion will have reconstructive surgery leaving the remainder to come to terms with an artificial breast. The breast prosthesis is made from a soft, gel-like substance contained within a polyurethane skin and is designed to have the look and feel of a natural breast.
Wearing breast prosthesis can be a successful option, but sadly many cancer survivors simply aren’t fitted correctly, making the wearing of prosthesis difficult and unsatisfactory. Following surgery and the trauma of treatment, women can feel vulnerable and alienated as well as unsure of how to find the best solution for wearing an artificial breast and how and where to source the right bra.
One lady, and her team of staff, who are thankfully breaking important ground in the services being offered to women post-surgery is Michelle Grant Richardson of Boutique 65 in Colchester. Open for just two years, the Crouch Street-based shop is already winning both recognition and business awards for its work with women struggling to find the right fitting bras, including cancer patients.
Michelle says: ‘Most women at any stage of their lives are 80% likely to be wearing the wrong sized bra and likewise the people offered prosthesis following surgery will often end up with the wrong size based on an inaccurate knowledge of bra size.
‘We offer a professional fitting service and in the two years since we’ve been open, somewhere in the region of 4,000 women have visited Boutique 65 and only 14 or so were wearing their correct bra size. By the time they leave us they usually find they are two cup sizes bigger and two back sizes smaller. It really can change the way a women feels about her shape for the better.
‘Many women, including mastectomy patients, feel negative about their bodies and resort to shopping online where they receive little guidance. At Boutique 65 we offer a safe, comfortable and private environment where women can discover what works best for them. We are delighted to be the point of referral for women facing or recovering from a mastectomy and those who come to us have said how much of a difference it makes to be supported by people who understand how important it is to not let the illness take away their dignity or their pleasure in looking nice. It is vital for their recovery.
‘Hospitals are now referring patients to us to be measured correctly so that correct prosthesis can be issued as soon as possible. We provide support, advice on the best choice of bra to enhance the woman’s figure and help raise much-needed self-esteem. Every woman, whatever their circumstances, is different and we cater for that. We fit from an A to a K cup and from a size 28 back upwards. We strive for excellence in service and our wish is that we can inspire our clients to wear beautiful lingerie and to feel the confidence they deserve.’
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65 Crouch Street
Private fittings are available by appointment.