Breast Prostheses Add Immeasurable Value
July 2020 Issue
Prosthetists and orthotists are in the business of compassion. Nothing is so rewarding as seeing a person once ill, physically disabled, or emotionally broken, regain his or her quality of life. It is a gift to witness a patient's confidence growing—and to continue serving them as they journey through active, full lives.
Providers and fitters of post-mastectomy breast prostheses see such transformation again and again. It happens almost immediately when a client is fitted properly. Seeing herself in the fitting room mirror, we see her eyes light up and her shoulders square and relax; she stands up tall again. Just last week, I fitted a woman who has been wearing breast prosthetics for several years, but still, her reaction to a new, better-fitting bra and prosthesis was audible. She gasped, saying she was overwhelmed by how comfortable it was, and it reminded me of all the times I've been able to share these moments with breast surgery patients.
(While there is no medical requirement for a mastectomy patient to wear a prosthesis, if she chooses not to undergo reconstructive surgery there are reasons it should be considered. For example, an imbalance in weight on the chest after mastectomy can sometimes lead to rounded shoulders, poor posture, and back and neck pain.)
Compassionate care by a trained and certified mastectomy fitter provides women with a properly measured and fitted bra and the correct style of prosthesis, chosen to match her lifestyle.
When we teach durable medical equipment providers and O&P practitioners about including mastectomy prostheses in their businesses, we're always met with enthusiasm. Our training programs prepare bra fitters to take the certified mastectomy fitter exam. At a recent fitting presentation I gave, the trainees included a group of interns about to finish their prosthetics degree programs; notably, they had never been introduced to this part of the industry. Their response was so positive; they were eager to know more about this additional opportunity to help people. Mastectomy fitting gives compassionate people another way to serve.
While there is value in having more options for sales revenue, businesses that provide mastectomy products also become community resources. Remember that one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer each year. They and their families long for guidance through the process, and that's sometimes hard to find within the medical system. So the expertise of a certified mastectomy fitter can be a welcome gift, creating loyalty in return business, yes, but also lasting relationships and passionate referrals.
It's so important to broaden awareness about options for breast prostheses. Providers of mastectomy products can have lasting impact on the local medical community, giving surgeons and oncologists more comprehensive understanding of all their patients' post-surgical options. The hope is that continued education on the local level will elevate the collective knowledge of community practitioners, so that post-mastectomy prostheses will be regarded as an important component of lifelong compassionate healthcare.
Andrea Coomans, CMF, is the director of sales at Amoena USA, Kennesaw, Georgia. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.