Did you know that 1 in 2 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime here in Canada? And an estimated 25% of those women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, how are women finding the support they need without the additional worry about risking exposure during the current pandemic?

The Look Good Feel Better organization recently announced its online breast care workshops. The workshops are created to teach practical tips and techniques to manage the appearance-related effects of cancer. Known for their hair, makeup and skincare workshops, the organization has created a safe space for women  to connect with others and share their stories.

The online workshops provide women with access to information about the types of products available at various stages of post-cancer surgery, a guide to what to expect and what to ask if choosing a breast-fitting post-surgery and information on financial support available to women going through cancer treatments.

The goal of the workshops is to empower women to feel confident when they return to their everyday activities – whether it be exercising, feeling good in their clothes or as simple as hugging your loved ones. The workshops provide women with a space to explore their options in a small group setting led by an expert volunteer. Women can attend the workshop from the comfort of their own home and can join from anywhere in the country virtually. All they have to do is register online for the worshop they would like to participate in.

Workshops include topics:

  • Wigs and Head Coverings
  • Skincare and Makeup
  • Body Image, Wardrobe, and Styling

You can learn more here at www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org

We recently chatted with Dianne, breast care specialist, and founder of Dianne’s Mastectomy, which provides women with prostheses, bras, and other garments to help women feel more comfortable post-surgery. Dianne has been volunteering with the Look Good Feel Better organization for over two years.

Please tell us about Dianne’s Mastectomy?

Dianne: I have been in business for 35 years fitting women with breast prostheses and mastectomy bras after their mastectomy surgeries. I also carry a wide range of related post-mastectomy garments and products such as pocketed swimwear, activewear, loungewear, and helpful accessories. There are so many products available these days that make life after a mastectomy so much easier.

I am also a certified fitter of lymphedema garments such as stockings and sleeves. Lymphedema is a common and potential complication of breast cancer as it is caused by disruption of the lymph nodes, which are often removed and tested during a mastectomy surgery.

What are some of the most common concerns of women when it comes to women post-surgery?

Dianne: The main concern that women have is that they want to look like themselves again, how they looked before breast cancer entered their lives. I have the privilege of helping to restore not only a woman’s appearance but often also her self-confidence. It’s not unusual to have happy tears shed in my office at the end of a fitting once a woman sees herself in the mirror wearing her new breast prosthesis.

Garments and breast prostheses have come a long way over the years in terms of comfort and look. What can you tell us about the latest materials and technology?

Dianne: Starting my business in 1985, I can tell you that a LOT has changed. Not only the products themselves but the awareness and openness to discuss breast cancer publicly has changed significantly. The materials used today are incredible, they’re so soft and skin-like. Most breast prostheses are made of medical-grade silicone and can be made into various skin tones. With newer technology, this silicone has been able to be made lighter and cooler, which are both significant features to the woman wearing one. Lightweight is important because although a breast prosthesis is lighter than a natural breast, it’s not being held up by the chest wall so it feels heavy in one’s bra. Temperature is also important, especially on vacation in hot places or during hot summer days when we’re all already sweating.

Look Good Feel Better organization helps women of all ages. How are you involved as a volunteer?

Dianne: I volunteer as a workshop instructor, providing post-mastectomy information to women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Cancer is a difficult journey to navigate even just medically, so being able to provide a glimpse into products available and what to expect after surgery is so important. I cover topics ranging from what to expect immediately after your surgery, after surgical healing (breast prostheses, mastectomy bras), lifestyle (swimwear, activewear), care and warranty, financial coverage options, and even how to navigate finding a mastectomy fitter near you that you’ll be comfortable with. It’s been a joy to know that I’m able to provide this invaluable information to the women who need it when they need it.

What can women expect with the online workshops?

Dianne: Look Good Feel Better adapted to the current climate in the wake of COVID-19 by moving their services online. After successfully rolling out the skincare & cosmetics and wig & hair alternatives workshops online, the organization is now offering its breast care workshop online. The breast care workshops provide women with access to information they’d typically get in-person, but with online workshops, there’s more time allotted – meaning expanded content and even more space for Q&A. Women can attend from the comfort of their own home – from anywhere across the country, with no parking expenses, no childcare expenses, no travel time – and learn about the types of products and supports available to them in various stages post-surgery.

To learn more, visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org