Every year, more than 230,000 women receive a breast cancer diagnosis.
Surgical options will be discussed and many women will face an amputation of one or both breasts in addition to lengthy drug and radiation therapies. Certified mastectomy fitters play a special role in helping women feel whole again.
A Certified Mastectomy Fitter (CMF) is an allied health professional who is specifically educated and trained in the provision of breast prostheses and post-mastectomy services. This includes fitting, adjusting, or modifying devices that reflect the level of education and training received.
“I get to see the moment when a patient who has lost one or both breasts turns toward a mirror and sees herself again,” said Sue Faloon, certified mastectomy fitter with WVU Medicine Home Medical of St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Bridgeport. “It is incredibly gratifying. I hope that what I do plays a small part in helping my patients not only feel like themselves again, but also helps them continue to fight their cancer or move forward in their healing process.”
My CMF certification lets patients know I am experienced and qualified to meet their needs. In order to maintain my CMF, I must complete continuing education each year. The training and education I receive allows me to stay up to date with new advances in the field as well as talk to other fitters. Not only am I familiar with an array of different products, but I also have the expertise to narrow those options down to what will work best for each individual patient.
Every woman has a different journey.
No two people’s cancer experiences are the same, so I treat each and every patient individually. I am not just there to fit a patient with prosthesis. “The women I see have been through a lot and often are very nervous and unsure when they first come into my fitting room,” said Faloon. “My job is to listen, understand what the patient needs, and then guide them through the process.”
Initially your doctor may need to give you the go-ahead to get fitted for a mastectomy bra. These fittings typically take place either in a medical setting, such a hospital or pharmacy shop, or in a lingerie/department store.
Wherever you go for your fitting, you should bring your breast form with you – if you have one – and one or two of your favorite tops. That way, you can make sure the bra you choose will work for you in what you’re used to wearing. You should expect to look good in anything you wear – within reason of the surgical site.
If you bring your favorite bra, your fitter can check it out, too. Sometimes the best choice is the bra you already own.
Fitters typically start by asking what you need: Are you looking for a compression bra (for right after surgery), or a pocketed bra? Are you going to have radiation, which can change your chest wall? (Most fitters recommend waiting until after radiation to get new bras.) What are you looking for in a bra: Are you shopping for the gym or for a special occasion?
You can also bring a family member or friend. The fitting room can be a very intimate space to share with a fitter you barely know.
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