Last week I did something I have been meaning to do, for me, for a long time. I finally visited Roches in Dublin to buy some properly-fitting post-surgery bras.
I had a lumpectomy surgery almost two years ago as part of my treatment for breast cancer in 2017. That year was a terrible one for me – I really struggled with my cancer diagnosis and was filled with a lot of fear and anxiety.
A bra for surgery
Before my breast surgery in June that year, my hospital breast care nurses advised I buy a sports bra for after the surgery – to provide wire-free, firm support. I didn’t know there were different options available when it came to breast surgery bras and so went off to a high-street store one Saturday. Luckily, I found a sports bra with a front-opening zip and a second bra with no wires, but the experience was not a good one. It was no fault of the store, but rather more that my shopping trip was filled with anxiety about the surgery, not knowing what options might be available that were most appropriate and feeling generally embarrassed and filled with self-pity. The fitting assistant didn’t ask me why I was choosing the particular bras I had, probably because I had a firm ‘please don’t ask me’ face on. If she had asked, I think I would have broken down in tears. Instead, I got sized, bought the bras as fast as I could and high-tailed it home.
The surgery came and went. In the days immediately after, I spent longer in hospital than anticipated due to an unexpected infection. Initially I could not bear the thought of putting my sports bra on – in my mind I thought it would only add to the pain I was experiencing – but after encouragement from the surgical team, I finally put it on under my pyjamas. They had said it would help me feel better, and they were right. I really did feel better with it on and the support actually helped the pain rather than adding to it.
Since then, I have come to know about Roches in Dublin through my work with owner Anne and Happy Magazine. How I wish I had known about her business before my surgery! Anne and the team at Roches are professional, kind and caring – many of them have been down the breast surgery route themselves already too – and they have so many tips and helpful products to offer for before and after breast surgery. I think a visit to Roches before my surgery would have helped me to feel more supported and less alone, and seeing all the options for beautiful bras and swimwear would have helped me feel more positive for the future.
Bras for life after breast surgery
Back to last week. I made an appointment to see Domenica, one of Roches’ Breast Care Fitters. I arrived on Friday afternoon to a bright and welcoming shopfront on the Lower Kimmage Road.
I went in and met Anne and then went straight in to see Domenica. Immediately she put me at ease with her calm and warm manner. Over the next half hour we sat together in one of Anne’s new beautifully renovated consultation studios and talked about bras, breast surgery, life and more! Domenica quickly assessed what I was looking for and suggested a couple of options which she felt would work. She measured me and straight away I was trying on different bra options.
Within about ten minutes I knew the ones I wanted – the very first suggestions from Domenica. A simple but beautiful everyday bra from Amoena – wire-free and super soft.
They had my size in black and nude and I went for both. Immediately on putting this particular bra on, I felt a considerable difference compared to the bra I came in wearing. This bra was so comfortable yet supportive and fit me just perfectly. After two years buying whatever wire-free bras I could get my hands on in high-street stores, usually ones designed for teenagers and lacking any significant support – these bras were an entire world away. Not to mention the fact that my bra size had changed in the two years since my surgery and the bra I was wearing was far from a perfect fit anymore.
A problem for me with high-street bras was both the fitting and lack of support. While I did not have a mastectomy, my lumpectomy did result in one breast remaining a slightly different size to the other due to oedema and this made the bras I was wearing turn to one side. Very frustrating! I chatted with Domenica about this and was delighted to learn that for every concern relating to breast surgery, they more than likely have a solution in the form of an appropriate bra, a partial prosthesis, bra insert or similar. Domenica’s bra choice for me had a good enough support and slight built-in padding that I didn’t need to go for any other additions. I was just delighted.
This summer I have a goal on my Big Life List – to swim in the Irish Sea. I am living in Ireland almost twenty years now and have never had a proper swim in the sea here. We are having a family holiday to Cork and Kerry this year and I wanted to get a beautiful swimsuit to help me feel wonderful for this goal. While trying on bras at Roches I couldn’t help but notice the racks of beautiful swimwear they have just got in for this season.
I talked to Domenica about what might be right for me from their range of bikinis, tankinis and swimsuits before we picked out a few for me to try on. I had noticed the one above immediately and kept getting drawn back to it – and as soon as I tried it on, I knew it was the one for me too. It made me feel fantastic and full of confidence for that walk from the beach into the sea. They had swimwear options that offered comfort, security and cover in the places you might need it, as well as pockets for prostheses and tummy panels to give you a great shape.
Overall, Domenica made finding the right options for me to try on easy and her expert advice led me to those options quicker than I ever would have found them myself if I had been shopping on the high-street or online. There is a true value to visiting the experts when it comes to post-surgery underwear – after my experience I can see that now.
Joining the Club
There’s something to be said for feeling great in your underwear. French women are known for their fondness of beautiful under clothes and now I think I understand why. It only took 34 years and a breast cancer diagnosis to get here, but hey, I’m glad I’m finally in the Club. I was so excited with my new bras that I could not wait to get home to put one on! I felt like I had spent an hour purely on me, on my comfort and self-care, and I felt wonderful afterwards. Who knew that two new bras and a swimsuit could make me such a happy woman? But they really did.
Medical card/private health insurance entitlements
If you live in Dublin and are entitled to a Medical Card or have a Medical Card, Roches will be able to let you know your entitlements based on the area in which you live. You could be entitled to two post-surgery bras plus a swimsuit every two years – all you will need is a prescription from your GP and Roches will take care of the rest. If you have private health insurance, you could be entitled to cover for post-surgery bras, swimwear and prostheses on an annual basis. For more information and to find out what you might be eligible for, contact Roches on (01) 492 6829.
For anyone who lives outside of Dublin, I have included a few contacts below of other services around the country that can help with post-surgery bra fitting, prostheses and swimwear.
Bravelle, Limerick, 061 351 886
Silhouette Services Bra and Prosthesis Fitting, Wexford, 087 7700631
Supreme Silhouette, Cork, 086 398 8650
The Lingerie Room, Kerry, 087 6407897
Valerie’s Breast Care, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Galway and North Cork, 085 160 1783
If you know of any others around the country, please let me know and I will add them to this post for other readers.
This is not a sponsored post, opinions entirely my own.