SPARTANBURG — A mastectomy can save the life of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer. But once she completes the remainder of her cancer treatment, the changes to her body can damage her self-esteem and emotional well-being.
The certified mastectomy fitter (CMF) at That Special Look, located in Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute, can help women through these challenges. A mastectomy fitter measures a patient and properly fits, dispenses and adjusts external breast prostheses, bras and related supplies. Trained and certified mastectomy fitters are integral to the physical and emotional well-being of patients, providing instruction and training on how to properly use and maintain post-mastectomy devices.
“A mastectomy fitting helps a woman with her self-image, along with the straightness of her back,” said Caroline Henson, a CMF. “Female bodies were meant to have breasts. When one or both are removed, it may cause the shoulders to sit in a strange position.”
During a mastectomy fitting, Henson helps women who recently went through a mastectomy try to get back to feeling “normal” by fitting a woman for a breast prosthesis and a special bra.
“When she puts this on, it does not look like she lost a breast and the prosthesis passes the ‘hug test,’ it feels like a natural breast,” Henson said. “That is so important for a woman’s confidence and socialization.”
Henson is the only full-time certified mastectomy fitter in Spartanburg County. She recently completed the rigorous process to earn the certification from the Board for Certification/Accreditation (BOC).
“I’m honored and proud to have earned my certification,” Henson said. “Working with such strong women every day is a blessing in my life. I enjoy helping women to look and feel their best before, during and after their cancer treatment.”
The certification is awarded when an individual has successfully completed extensive educational training and practical experience under supervision, passed a comprehensive examination, and meets nationally accepted standards of practice. Certified professionals are qualified to provide patient care and fit appropriately prescribed devices to individuals.
Gibbs understands that cancer treatment and its side effects affect the way a person looks and feels. A boutique in the cancer center, That Special Look, offers products to make cancer patients feel more comfortable during and after treatment.
Henson has served women with mastectomy fitting in That Special Look for two years. The boutique does not charge for mastectomy fittings. The products are often covered by insurance.
“Women often say they are thankful for our help at That Special Look,” Henson said. “Many say they were dreading it but once they get here, they say we helped make the fitting a good experience and boost their confidence.”
For a free consultation to discuss your needs, please call 864-560-7080.
About Gibbs Cancer Center and Research Institute
Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute is a nationally recognized cancer treatment and research facility associated with the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Center program and the Medical University of South Carolina. Named for benefactors Marsha and Jimmy Gibbs and with locations in Spartanburg, Gaffney and Greer, Gibbs is a proven leader in providing effective cancer treatment through advanced technology, professional expertise and an exceptional level of personalized care. Gibbs’ oncology program, which also includes the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health, has been recognized by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons as offering high-quality cancer care. In 2012, Gibbs joined forces with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System to expand world-class oncology services and clinical research in the Upstate. In 2013, Gibbs expanded its research efforts by opening a 7,500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility at Pelham Medical Center.
This story was submitted by the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.