From skin and nail care to specialist lingerie and headscarves, this International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8 March) The London Clinic is hosting a special event to shine a light on the wider health and well-being issues faced by cancer patients and the support that is available to them.
The pop-up, based at The Duchess of Devonshire Wing, The London Clinic’s dedicated cancer unit, will bring together a range of experts to provide holistic advice and guidance for patients and those who are caring for people impacted by cancer.
This includes The Bra Sisters – two breast cancer thrivers and former patients of The London Clinic, Kate Courtman and Sarah Mountford, who launched their own specialist lingerie and post-mastectomy bra fitting service to support other breast cancer survivors.
Kate and Sarah have a lot in common. Both have successful careers, are in their 30s, are married with two children, and live just five minutes from each other. However, they had never met until they were both diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018.
Most of their treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy, took place at The London Clinic, situated on Harley Street in London’s medical district. However, both women had a negative experience when shopping for bras following their mastectomy surgeries. This led them to become more than just friends – they became partners in ensuring other people didn’t have the same experience.
“When you’re fresh out of surgery and you’re trying to get used to your new body, the reality can really hit you,” said Kate. “I had an awful experience in the lingerie department of one store, the lady looked horrified when I explained to her about my double mastectomy and reconstruction.”
“Often, the post-mastectomy bras on offer aren’t something you would ever have chosen for yourself, and that shouldn’t change because you’ve had breast cancer,” said Sarah. “Kate and I had such similar experiences trying to find bras. At a time when you want to feel like you and regain that sense of identity after surviving breast cancer, the support just isn’t there. It can feel really lonely.”
Kate and Sarah created The Bra Sisters with the aim of providing a positive and personal bra fitting experience for people who have undergone mastectomies. Both women trained to become certified fitters in both standard and post-mastectomy bra fitting, and are passionate about instilling confidence, comfort and feel-good for their clients.
Dr Nalishebo Elliott, Head of Patient Experience and Quality Outcomes at The London Clinic, added: “Our belief is that no one should have to compromise on feeling their best and most authentic self, which can be hugely challenging for many after a cancer diagnosis. We’ve been supportive of Kate and Sarah since day one. The Bra Sisters are an example of great advocacy for health and well-being, and they are so aligned with our vision as an independent hospital and charity.”
The Bra Sisters added: “We’re so excited to be working with The London Clinic. The professionalism, expertise and personal touch, from all the staff, helped us through the most difficult period of our lives. We are grateful for the support already provided by The London Clinic in developing our business and are looking forward to working together with them to deliver our joint vision of empowering people through their treatment and beyond.”
The Bra Sisters will be joined by headscarf experts HeadWrappers, Raoul Wigmakers and The London Clinic’s new Health and Well-being Therapies team in answer to the range of physical and psychological side effects that cancer patients are likely to experience.
The pop-up will be open to visitors within the hospital’s new Healing Through Arts, Music & Culture gallery space at The Duchess of Devonshire Wing, 22 Devonshire Place, London, on Tuesday 8 March, from 9am to 4pm. The service will be open to the public and patients of The London Clinic. To book a bra fitting in advance, visit brasisters.co.uk.
Pink Ribbon adds: “The Bra Sisters are hoping to provide the service to Harley Street on 4-6 weekly basis, progressing to monthly treatments. Services are targeted individually. Pink Ribbon wishes them well, and hopes their experiences will help them develop their mixed offerings of online shop, fitting and advice. We would like to work them as their plans for global conquest continue!”