Mastectomy Products

Understanding Your Immune System

This timely article was published on the “BreatCancer.org” website (click here for the actual article). The information was so helpful that we wanted to share it with you.

When your immune system is weakened by cancer treatments, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself against infection. These steps become absolutely critical if your doctor has confirmed that your white blood cell counts are low. During and even after treatment, your body might temporarily be unable to combat bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other germs.

In addition, there can be a long-term risk of infection if you had lymph node removal. Generally, the more lymph nodes and vessels removed, the higher the risk — and the risk doesn’t go away after your incisions heal and cancer treatment ends. You’ll want to take special care to protect the skin of your arm, hand, and upper body (on the same side as your surgery) from any cuts, bug bites, burns, or other injuries. If you do get a cut, apply antibacterial ointment and a band-aid promptly. Infection can increase your risk of developing the condition known as lymphedema, in which lymph fluid “backs up” in the arm, hand, and/or torso and causes swelling and discomfort.

 Below are some of the precautions most often recommended for people whose immune systems are weakened by cancer treatment. These can help lower your risk of infection, but they can’t eliminate it completely. If you experience any symptoms of a possible infection, get medical attention right away.

 

Personal Hygiene

Wash your hands frequently throughout the day with warm soap and water. Always wash your hands before you cook or eat; before touching your eyes, face, or nose; after using the bathroom; after blowing your nose or coughing; and after being in a public place or at a public gathering.

If you don’t have access to soap and water right away, use hand sanitizer.

Brush your teeth with an extra-soft toothbrush in the morning, between meals, and before bed. Ask your doctor if dental floss is OK. He or she may recommend a gentle mouthwash; harsh, alcohol-based mouthwashes should be avoided.

If you have a chemotherapy port, keep the area clean and dry. Ask your nurse for instructions on how to care for the port area.

Clean yourself well but gently after going to the bathroom. Soft moist wipes are a good idea. If you have irritation or bleeding, report it to your doctor or nurse.

Take a warm (not hot) bath, shower, or sponge bath every day. Be gentle on your skin, patting it dry lightly. Pay attention to areas where bacteria gather, such as the underarms and groin area.

 

Avoiding Cuts or Skin Breaks

Push your nail cuticles back after a shower and keep them moisturized. Don’t cut, bite, or tear them. Avoid manicures or pedicures.

Take care when using knives, scissors, or needles. Use a thimble for sewing.

Wear protective gloves for activities that could injure the skin, and try to find gloves that extend up the arm. These include rubber gloves for cleaning or washing dishes; gardening gloves for planting, pruning, and outdoor chores; and oven mitts for cooking and grilling. You can get chef’s gloves to use when cutting with sharp knives or using a grater.

Try not to touch or scratch pimples, rashes, or bug bites.

To avoid bug bites, use insect repellents that won’t dry out the skin and don’t contain harsh chemical ingredients. Avoid brands that contain a significant amount of alcohol. Any ingredient that ends in “ol” is a type of alcohol.

Moisturize daily to keep skin supple and prevent cracking. Try a gentle lotion such as Eucerin, Moisturel, or Aquaphor.

Try a cream hair-remover (try one labeled for sensitive skin) instead of a traditional razor to remove hair. Be sure to test any hair-removing creams on another area of the body first. 

Wear shoes inside and out of the house.

Apply antibiotic ointment — such as Bactroban, Neosporin, Polysporin, or a store-brand ointment with the same ingredients — to any insect bites, torn cuticles, or cuts you notice. Cover cuts with a band-aid and report any signs of infection to your doctor.

 

Avoiding Germs 

Try to avoid large crowds (concerts, crowded movies, school events, airports) as much as you can.

Stay away from people who have a cold, flu, virus, or any sickness you can catch. 

Stay away from people who have recently been vaccinated against chickenpox, smallpox, polio, measles-mumps-rubella, or shingles. It’s best to avoid these people for at least 3 weeks after they’ve been vaccinated. 

Wear protective gloves when gardening or cleaning, or helping children with the bathroom/diapering. Wash your hands after taking off the gloves.

Try to have someone else pick up after your pet, collect trash, and take out the garbage. 

Clean frequently touched items at home and work with antibacterial cleaning wipes. Examples include door handles, phone receivers, keyboards, and TV remotes.

Don’t get into pools, hot tubs, water parks, lakes, or ponds.

Don’t share towels, drinking glasses, or utensils with others in your house without washing them first in hot water.

 

Practicing Food Safety

Wash your hands well after handling and preparing foods such as meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Wash produce well, even if it comes in a package that says it’s “prewashed.”

Cook meat thoroughly.

Don’t eat foods or drink juices that haven’t been pasteurized. These can include certain kinds of milk, cheese, yogurt, and fruit juice.

Consider cooking vegetables rather than eating them raw.

Refrigerate leftovers promptly. 

Do not eat any outdated food. 

Avoid foods with mold in them. 

Avoid raw sprouts and nuts.

Call us today at (541) 383-8085 to learn more about the care we can provide you during your breast cancer journey! 

Why Moms Should Choose the Ameda Mya Joy Breast Pump

When moms need a reliable pump with versatile features, safety, and comfort, they choose the Mya Joy (See our product page for more details). This hospital-strength breast pump offers the best value for moms who are looking for a convenient pumping experience with adjustable settings for single or double pumping. Powerful, lightweight, and quiet, the Mya Joy also features the world’s only FDA-cleared pump kit that helps protect breast milk from contaminants, known as the HygieniKit (see below). This pump delivers on the ultimate promise of comfort for pain free pumping by offering a wide range of settings, mom-friendly features, and flange sizes (see below). Whether pumping on-the-go, at home or at work, Mya Joy offers pumping without compromise with its travel-ready size that's compact, light, and portable (see below).

 

Parent Care

Each Ameda Mya Joy Breast Pump comes with unlimited telephone support through the Parent Care program. If you are having any issues or questions about your new breast pump, simply call our Parent Care center and get help from licensed lactation consultants. There are common challenges that you may encounter during your breastfeeding journey.

 

The HygieniKit Milk Collection System

Our milk collection system features the world’s only FDA-cleared patented protective barrier that protects the breast milk, kit tubing and pump from potential contaminants like bacteria and viruses while pumping. The milk collection system has everything you need to start pumping today. Experience top-of-the-line equipment found in hospitals around the country, in the comfort of your home because you and your baby deserve the best there is. Ameda® HygieniKit Milk Collection Systems are without BPA or DEHP. Pump tubing exposed to aerosols of milk or water can also become contaminated with mold growth. Ameda’s kit prevents milk and/or moisture from entering tubing — eliminating the risk of dangerous mold growth. Learn more about HygieniKit’s FDA-cleared viral barrier here

 

Small, Portable, and Adjustable 

The Ameda Mya Joy electric breast pump is small, quiet, and portable with either AC or double A batteries. It also comes with a belt clip to aid in on the go pumping. Our Breast Pump comes with Dual Adjustability that allows mom to select multiple suction levels for both stimulation mode and milk pumping mode. This allows mom to select settings that provide her with the best efficiency and comfort while pumping. 

 

Ameda CustomFit Flange System

IThe Ameda CustomFit Breast Pump Flange Kit helps make breast pumping comfortable and helps mom pump more milk with a “just right” fit. The breast flange is the funnel shaped piece that cups the breast. A good fit is important! Make sure your breast flange is not too small or too large. Using the wrong size will cause discomfort and reduce the effectiveness of your pump. If pumping causes discomfort, even on a low suction setting, switching to a different breast flange size may be the solution. All Ameda® HygieniKit® Milk Collection Systems come with a standard size 25.0mm flange that works well for many moms, but we also offer a range of different flange sizes and inserts – our CustomFit Flange System – to ensure you find your best fit.

 

Call us today at (541) 383-8085 to learn more about this amazing breast pump!

Mariposa Boutique Consultations

Your Post Mastectomy Options

It still surprises me when a woman spends some time with us at Mariposa and then says, “I never knew these products were available.” She either didn’t know that post-mastectomy bras and prostheses exist, or that her insurance provides coverage for them.

The Legislation Behind Women’s Health Choices

The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (see this link) provides each woman with the ability to choose what she wants after a mastectomy. It not only allows for reconstruction but also for prostheses as an option to help a woman obtain a balanced and symmetrical appearance after breast surgery. In general terms, this means insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, must include benefits that allow for these choices.

The Products

At Mariposa, we carry both non-silicone and silicone prostheses (see https://mariposaoregon.com/mastectomy-products/ for some examples). Within these broad categories are a multitude of options. There are prostheses for women who are very active and sweat a lot. There are prostheses for women who have had partial mastectomies and don’t need a full prosthesis. There are prostheses that weigh less than a pound and others that are heavy. There are so many options available to help you achieve the look and feel that you need and want. And the options for pocketed bras to fit the prostheses inside of are just as varied.

Getting Insurance to Pay

In order to help ladies with this, a post-mastectomy boutique must be accredited as a Durable Medical Equipment facility. This allows us to contract with insurance carriers so that we can process your claim. It also means we must staff our business with Certified Mastectomy Fitters. We have two certified women at Mariposa (https://mariposaoregon.com/about-mariposa-boutique/). Abby and I love helping ladies feel beautiful again. We are well versed in what we need to do to submit your insurance claim and can help figure out what your particular plan coverage is. 

If you are reading this and had no idea you have choices and options, we hope you will allow us the opportunity to introduce you to them and help you navigate the insurance process to obtain them. It would be our honor!

Can Compression Really Help Me?

At Mariposa Boutique, we help a lot of people with compression for a variety of needs. One of the comments we often hear them make before they even leave is “Wow, it feels so good!”

Why Compression Feels Good

Blood and lymphatic fluid flow throughout our body. Ideally these fluids will flow all the way to our hands and feet and then back to our heart and out again. This circulatory process happens continuously without us even realizing it. Until something happens to get in the way. Something as simple as pressure changes during air travel can cause swelling in lower legs and feet. And something more complex like disease or damage can cause swelling in any body part. Swelling is uncomfortable at best and can contribute to more serious health issues at worst. Graduated compression garments help keep swelling down and improve the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid. And this most often feels so good!

What is a "Graduated" Compression Garment?

This simply means that the greatest amount of pressure is at the ankle or wrist. The pressure decreases as the garment goes up the arm or leg. The effect this has on the fluid flow is to push it back towards the heart. But not all garments are graduated. Some, like compression camisoles, will deliver equal pressure throughout the garment. There are so many unique garments available. We discuss a sampling of these on our compression page at: Compression Garments.   

Who Should Wear Compression Garments?

We always recommend that you consult with your primary care doctor or a specialist if you have any health concerns (DVT, skin ulcers, varicose veins) that are leading you to consider compression. If you don’t have a health concern, but maybe you work at a job where you are on your feet the entire workday, then even a low level (15-20mmHg) of compression could possibly help your legs feel less achy and tired at the end of the day. Or if you travel by air, graduated compression stockings could possibly help keep swelling down in your legs. Or maybe you are an extreme sport athlete who wants help with post-exercise muscle recovery (see https://simplifaster.com/articles/compression-garments-performance-recovery/  for info on this).

Regardless of the reason you have for considering compression, we can talk to you about the wide range of available options and help you get the perfect fit for you, so you leave Mariposa saying “Wow, it feels so good!”

womens wigs

Women’s Hair Loss

When dealing with Women’s hair loss, you may look at the shower drain, are you noticing more hair piled up than you used to? I’ve noticed that with the added stress from the COVID pandemic, I seem to be losing more hair. Or maybe it’s just part of aging. There are multiple factors that can lead to women’s hair loss.

Why Women Lose Their Hair

I have been amazed at the variety of reasons women come to Mariposa to purchase wigs. Some, like me, are experiencing hair loss due to stress. Some are losing hair because of hormonal changes, whether natural or medication induced. Many women have thinning hair as they age. Of course, we see a lot of women losing their hair because of chemotherapy treatment for a variety of cancer types. Alopecia, a condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, is another cause of hair loss. And sometimes there is a trauma or injury to the scalp that leads to hair loss. Or maybe it was just a bad haircut. I’m sure I haven’t listed all the reasons for women’s hair loss, but these are the most common ones we see.

The Experience of Losing Hair

It’s a struggle and emotionally charged when a woman is losing her hair. It’s an outward manifestation of what’s going on inside of your body. And it’s a reminder each time you look in the mirror or see another person looking at you with a wondering gaze. It can be devastating to have had hair you loved and enjoyed styling piling up in the shower drain. My hair loss hasn’t even become noticeable to anyone but me, but I worry about what I will do if it continues (which probably doesn’t help!). And my situation is minor compared to so many women’s experience. But I do think it’s normal for all of us to want to look like we always have, or maybe even better than we think we have.

A Wig as a Solution

That’s probably one of the things I enjoy most about working with women who come into Mariposa looking for a wig. When we find just the right style or color and they say, “that looks like me!” it’s exciting. And wigs have come a long way with new technology. A current trend we see in women who color their hair, is to have darker roots than the rest of their hair. Now this is a trend in wigs as well. There are also wigs that have lace fronts, parts, and tops which allow natural skin to show through, just like it would with your own hair. And the number of styles, from super short to super long is amazing. You can take a look at a few of the many wigs available on our wig page. We carry Henry Margu wigs and you can see many more on their website. Whether you want to look like you always have, or try something completely new, a wig can be a solution to help with what you are going through. Maybe you’ll see me in one soon too…

Mariposa Exterior

Body Image for the Post Mastectomy Woman

“I hate my boobs!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in the mirror and had that thought. I’m not sure if this is a U.S. thing or if women all over the world feel this way. I can say that until I became a Certified Mastectomy Fitter, helping women find mastectomy bras and prostheses after breast surgery, I was sure that most women’s breasts look like the ones we see in the movies or walking down the Las Vegas Strip. I am here to proclaim from the mountain tops, “IT’S NOT TRUE!” How freeing for me it is to know that other women have breasts that look like my imperfect pair. I’m sharing this because I really want women who have had a mastectomy (partial, unilateral, or bilateral) to know that other women look like them too.

Many, not all, of the women who we see at Mariposa are very self-conscious about removing their clothing for our mastectomy fitting appointments. This is understandable. Our breasts are a special part of our female body. First, we have them, and men don’t. Second, they are a natural part of our intimacy with our partners. Third, they are life-nourishing for our babies. There are other reasons that make our breasts special, but these are some of the tops.

So, what happens when a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and has surgery to remove that cancer? Sometimes she feels like she isn’t normal anymore. I know this because I’ve had many women in a fitting appointment look in the mirror, after putting on a pocketed bra and prostheses for the first time post-op, and say “Oh my gosh, I look normal again!” The other thing I’ve noticed is how concerned some women are over their partner’s opinion of how they look. The need for affirmation from the person we are closest to is real. I’ve witnessed some raw emotions in these situations. If there are any men reading this, I think what your partner wants most is your attention on her and what she is going through now. She doesn’t necessarily want you to say she looks perfect just the way she is (she probably won’t believe you) but she does want to know that you are focused on trying to help her make choices that help her feel good about her appearance and make you happy too!

I love working with women and helping them make choices with bras and prostheses that give them confidence. It’s great that many of the products being developed are more comfortable and beautiful than in the past. See this link to see the types of products available: Mastectomy Products.  I’m thankful too that strides continue to be made towards these goals. But what I really want the post-mastectomy woman to hear from this is that “more women look like you (or similar) than you can imagine.” I hope this helps you!