WHEN both of her breasts were removed due to cancer, Annie Chin thought she would no longer need to wear bras.
However, eight years after the mastectomy and without prosthesis, she started to feel insecure about her condition.
“Whenever I go out, I feel insecure about my body and there are times that I just want to go home. Appearance and self confidence are not the only concerns, there are effects that alter body posture and other medical conditions such as neck and back problems.
“I suffered shoulder pain and swollen back due to changes to the body,” she says.
Chin, who is the past president of Kinabalu Pink Ribbon, is now helping other breast cancer patients learn the importance of wearing silicone breast prostheses as they are medically necessary to maintain proper weight and shape symmetry of the chest and back.
Patients can wear a temporary light fibre-filled breast form which minimise irritation to sensitive tissue besides restoring shape, a few days after the surgery, she explained at the launch of Pinktober campaign in Kota Kinabalu recently.
As for the permanent silicone breast prosthesis, which is worn externally, it can be worn between six and eight weeks after surgery. Silicone breast prosthesis is designed to closely resemble the natural breast in terms of weight, appearance and texture, and adapt to the natural temperature of the body.
Chin says, however, it is not the choice for some women because they are uncomfortable with it.
“On average women have to wear at least eight hours a day to prevent complications but they can take it off at night while sleeping,” she says adding that there are prostheses meant for swimming activities as well.
Kinabalu Pink Ribbon, a breast cancer support group in Sabah, is giving away 20 new pairs of bras and prostheses pledged by China Consul General in Kota Kinabalu in conjunction with the campaign until the end of this month.
Its president Nancy Tham says once the scar area and swelling are healed, breast cancer patients can be fitted with the bras and prostheses at Kinabalu Pink Ribbon centre.
Tham says the campaign aims to raise awareness on breast cancer that include free clinical breast examination at Klinik Malaysia, free meal vouchers for needy patients at the breast clinic at Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2 and 10 post-operation or surgical bras,
Qualified patients also receive financial aid of RM300, increased from RM250.