I was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine mammogram at the age of 40. I had no family history or known risk factors, so the news was shocking to say the least. In the end, though, I was one of the lucky ones. What they thought was an invasive diagnosis turned out to be early stage. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction and navigated those surgeries as well as could be expected. So you can imagine my surprise when getting dressed in the morning became one of my greatest challenges. I tried on over two hundred bras in a six-month period, and none of them worked. The pretty lingerie I wore before surgery no longer fit, and the existing post-surgical garments were industrial, synthetic and unattractive. When I finally started speaking with other women about their experiences, I was shocked to discover that this issue was not only universal amongst newly diagnosed women like myself; but it was also true for decades-long survivors as well as women facing a myriad of other physical changes. Ultimately, I realized that the inability to start each day free of pain, discomfort, and confidence was a barrier to healing on emotional and psychological levels. So, I vowed to pay my good prognosis forward and solve this problem for others. Everviolet’s mission is to help women renew a sense of self and femininity following change, offering functional and fashionable intimate apparel that enables them to feel like people first and patients last.2. You are obviously an expert at shopping for the right bra… for each step of the breast cancer journey, and beyond. Even without breast cancer, our bodies are ever-changing. What are some guidelines you can suggest for choosing the right bra, from something comfortable to wear during chemo to a double mastectomy bra? What should women going through breast cancer treatment look for?
There are a few things that are important when choosing a bra after breast cancer or at any point in life. First, it’s important to understand our anatomy. Whether it’s scarring or nerve damage resulting from surgery, arm mobility issues, skin sensitivity, or simply having certain preferences due to our natural size or proportions, these details matter. We recommend measuring the underbust area as well as over the largest part of your chest. From there you can determine your size and choose accordingly. Next, I cannot emphasize the importance of fabrications and garment detailing. A minor irritation can become a huge pain point over time, so focus on high quality, soft fabrics that soothe the skin, and styles that are gentle. Wireless construction can be just as supportive if constructed properly, and it’s always more comfortable. Also, of particular importance to me, is having clean fabrics against my skin, promoting breathability, temperature control, and overall wellness.
Note that not all fabrics that claim to be sustainable are, so do your research if this is an important value. For those going through breast cancer, knowing what type of garment you need during each phase of healing is critical. Sometimes you will need compression, and other times, something more gentle. You may need to find pieces that help avoid lymphedema or pieces that accommodate prosthetics. All of these types of lingerie are available at Everviolet.3. We love your company motto of “feel like a person, not a patient.” How do Everviolet bras help to do this?
We believe that comfort is Queen when it comes to quality of life. If we are in pain or feeling constricted or irritated in any way, that will often be our focus. However, when we are comfortable and wearing something that makes us feel pretty, our confidence shines. Everviolet bras, camis, panties, and loungewear are thoughtfully designed to avoid incision, lymph, and nerve damage sites, as well as contain a plethora of functionality to promote comfort… all the while looking beautiful on a range of body types.4. Everviolet is eco-friendly and responsible. Did your experience with breast cancer impact your desire to make your company “conscious?”
100%! I had always eaten cleanly and taken good care of my body, but after my diagnosis, I started to focus even more on my surroundings. I took a hard look at my wardrobe as well as my skincare and household products. I literally cleaned them all up. Especially following my surgery, when my skin was so sensitive and painful, I knew that I only wanted garments against my skin that were natural, breathable, and sustainable. That philosophy has extended straight to the heart of Everviolet. Prior to launching, I was aware of how toxic the apparel industry is to the environment, and given that we are a brand devoted to wellness, I couldn’t in good faith create a company that contributed to that issue. So, the brand is built around being good for the body and the planet. In addition to our certified sustainable jerseys, we use reusable and/or recycled packaging, marketing, and shipping materials. We also produce our collection in small batches and sell through our inventory to avoid contributing to landfills.5. What is one piece of advice you’d give to a woman going through breast cancer treatment?
I would tell her that in spite of all of the suffering, fear, and unknowns that come with breast cancer, there are glimmers of light that emerge that she wouldn’t see otherwise. Life lessons, silver linings, and gestures from loved ones and strangers alike that will touch her in ways she never thought possible. That she will emerge from this experience stronger, braver, and more resilient than she knew she ever could be. And that she is not alone, even though it can feel that way in moments. There is a sisterhood that no one ever starts out wanting to be a part of, but when faced with breast cancer, becomes the most valuable, connected community of thrivers and supporters she could imagine. Have faith and believe in herself.