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Topic: No Bra = No Lymphedema

Forum: Lymphedema — Risks, tips for prevention, and info about products that can address the symptoms of lymphedema.

Posted on: Jul 6, 2009 01:05PM

t9jorda wrote:


Background:  June 2006 I awoke from my breast cancer surgery with lymphedema .... wore a compression sleeve for almost 2 years.   Success:  Then the BIG discovery!...which was totally by fluke.  I switched from wearing a bra, to wearing a cami that had really good underwire breast cups.  In less then a week I no longer needed to wear a compression sleeve, and my arm no longer hurt.  I suspect that with a regular bra that the banding must have prevented the flow of lymph fluid somehow.  To test that theory, I have tried several times to wear a "regular" bra again... and each time I have had the same result... arms swells and hurts in just a few hours... and I can't wait to take it off.   
Just for the record, I do still get lymphedema "pain alerts and mild swelling" when I lift things that are too heavy, or garden for too long... so I know it is still lurking there... as long as I do things in moderation and drink lots of water (along with no bras), I have been able to maintain my successful handling of this medical condition.   I hope my unscientific findings help you too, this small change in my wardrobe has made a big, big difference in my life.    Best Wishes tj 
Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 01:24PM reen wrote:

Hah, I stopped wearing a bra this summer.  Just been wearing cami's.  What a difference?  No swelling.  I think we're on to something.

First Dx. 11/2005 Mucinous Carcinoma Stage 1 Grade1 0/15 nodes Rads 2nd Dx 6/5/08, IDC, Stage 1, Grade 2, 2/44 nodes ER+ PR+ HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 02:11PM kira wrote:

I do think you're on to something: for the last year I was able to get away without a bra, but recently started to work in a situation where I need (or feel the need) to wear one. So, I got a "barely there" bra, but I do notice I'm having to work harder to keep my LE under control.

What brand of cami's do you wear?

Definitely tight bra straps over the shoulder, and around the chest will restrict lymph flow.

Kira 

Knowledge is the antidote to fear, Ralph Waldo Emerson Dx 5/10/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 02:19PM t9jorda wrote:


YES!!!! I am thrilled to hear that you too have discovered the same thing.  Every Dr., nurse, physio, and medical person I have met since I have figured this out I have been sharing what I learnt with them... and it's the first that ANY of them have heard of this.  I even flash my new cami to them so they can see what I am talking about.  All I can think and hope is that by not wearing a bra, and having better lymph fluid movement within my body that perhaps this helps the body's health as a whole.  At a minimum I no longer live with a painful arm, and that makes me one very happy gal.   Now wouldn't this make a very interesting clinical trial... so little research has been done on this subject.  "To wear a bra? or not wear a bra? to prevent lymphedema." If any medical person is lurking please give this some worthwhile thought.   Cheers... tj             
Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 02:29PM hollyann wrote:

I know I feel much better when I go without my bra.....My arm and back are so much more comfortable...I wear tank tops under my clothes  when I don't want to wear a bra if the top is a light one if not then I don't wear anything under  and also camis......What brand cami do you wear?....I wear Haynes Her Way tanks and camis......

Hugs and Love....Lucy Dx 1-15-07 IDC stage 1b grade 1, 1.6 cm.....Also DCIS grade 3, both in left breast Dx 1/15/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 02:45PM t9jorda wrote:

Kira/Hollyann, I have really liked the Flexees cami... I have several styles that I use for different activities. 

The one in the link below is my favorite for business wear\stylish dresses - style 77390.  I have found that most of the shapewear camis regardless of brand want to roll up a little, but once they are tucked into underwear or hose, they are beautiful.  As an added bonus to switching to these types of camis all my clothes look better on... no little bumps or rolls... which is nice (they also don't bother my scar which is still sensitive 3 years out)

http://www.maidenform.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=70511&categoryId=30&wtlCategory=Flexees%20%AE%20Shapewear&parentCategoryId=3

I think each person needs to experiment with the brand and maker that they like the best.  I know I spent a small fortune until I found the best combo that worked for me and my lifestyle.  Also with being a 34B the style/type I have selected works for my frame.  It's the whole concept of not having a binding band under ones breast that is the key when selecting your product.

I sure do hope this message helps others... I wish a Dr. would have told me this from get go, it would have saved a lot of pain and discomfort.

Best Wishes, tj 

Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 03:13PM - edited Jul 6, 2009 03:37PM by hollyann

Thanks I will go look at those now!.......

Edited to add I ordered one and it was free standard shipping!....... Only cost me $29!.......I pay twice that for my bras!..........Thanks again!......

Hugs and Love....Lucy Dx 1-15-07 IDC stage 1b grade 1, 1.6 cm.....Also DCIS grade 3, both in left breast Dx 1/15/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 03:37PM OneBadBoob wrote:

I totally agree--wearing cami's makes a great difference!

But, since I also have breast LE, I find that cami's WITHOUT UNDERWIRES do an even better job at not impeding lymph flow.

he he he--another one who spent a small fortune, under I found the Maidenform Control It with no underwires--fits me to a T!

Jane - Dance as if no one is watching!! Dx 7/7/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 6, 2009 05:29PM bomber410 wrote:

I've been wearing the lycra camis from Barely There for the last couple years.  When I run, I wear one under layers of poly/lycra shirts in winter and need no extra bra.  In the summer, I add a sports bra over top of the cami.  I can handle the extra heat from wearing this extra layer in the summer. 

These licra camis are like an addiction to me.  I am so comfortable - no wires, no narrow straps pulling into my shoulder.  I love the torso compression.  It's light but it is there.  I have to think to wear a regular ba.

I am with you.

Debbie

You can visit my CaringBridge site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/deb... Dx 3/29/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 1/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 7, 2009 12:58PM txred9876 wrote:

This might be a solution to some of my problem. I am swelling between my bra line and waist band on pants/bike shorts. I am going to have to find something because I cannot stop riding!

Tina

Dx 8/10/2005, IBC, 2cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, 2/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jul 7, 2009 03:20PM jinky wrote:

Hi Girls,

I have had both breasts removed (one cancer 7 yrs ago....can't believe it). No reconsruction. I always wear shelf top tanks from Walmart for $5 and $7.00. Love them and i wear foam breasts from Sears at i think , around $20.00. I never wear a bra and I wear a blouse with them when i go somewhere.

Now if only i could turn myself young again like this model. lol

bc and le hugs jinky

age 2, grade 1, 4 chemo, 5 yrs tamoxifen, femara 48mts, preventative mastectomy 2005 Dx 4/30/2002, ILC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 1/11 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 7, 2009 04:38PM plainjane64 wrote:

Hmmmm, interesting.....I have recently been struggling w/ truncal LE and was almost sure my underwire bras were culprits.  of course when you're a 36DD it's tough to find good support plus it's uncomfortable for me to go w/o too.  I had seroma/abscess/cellulits and at the time I met the LE my axilla felt very full.  I tried to gow/o a bra as much as possible and have now only 2 bras from the LE therapist I use.  To make things even more confusing I'm moving forwrad w/ bilat mastect/recon now scheduled for sept.  while I know I'll still be at risk because of the 4 nodes removed the badness-radiated area will be gone and I hope so will the seroma area and truncal LE.  I absolutely cannot wait to be smaller and after reading this am thinking maybe I'll ask for Cs...I know i won't be wearing the torture device high dollar brassierres I have all my life.  But being athletic hope......Surely I'll be able to get by w/o those straight jacket bras...more questions for consult appt!  also glad I asked to be matched up w/ alumni who are active/athletic! 

xoxo, jenniferjane Dx 10/18/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 06:18AM mccarroll wrote:

I found a compression tank at Target (Asset brand, around $20).  I was sure that my LE was better on the days I wore it.  Thanks for the confirmation!!!!  I wear one all day, plus my glove when we walk at night ... no pain or swelling. I wore the UnderArmour products during the winter so was looking for something similar but sleeveless for our hot Houston summer.  I really think we are on to something. 

We will lick this yet!!

 Karen

Put on your big girl panties and deal with it! Dx 5/9/2006, IDC, 3cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 4/20 nodes, ER-, HER2+
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Jul 8, 2009 07:28AM txred9876 wrote:

I have to wear something to hold my "girls" since they are fake. I look really funny without them since my belly is big. I am going to try to wear a body suit today and see how I do. I did start having redness in my belly last night after my bike ride in the almost 100 degree heat. I drank plenty of fluids and limited it to around 15 miles or so.

I did use my flexitouch last night and its a little better this morning but not totally gone. Hense I am wearing a body suit and a dress today to see if that helps.

Tina

Dx 8/10/2005, IBC, 2cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, 2/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jul 8, 2009 01:16PM - edited Jul 8, 2009 01:21PM by t9jorda

  Tina, here's something of interest that may work... it's a bike unitard.  I wore something similar to this prior to breast cancer with a T-shirt/jacket/vest thrown over... the concept takes a bit to get use to, but once I did, I loved it.  It would not have any pinch points to restrict the flow of lymph fluid as you move.... may be worth a try.  Interesting enough I still have not been able to bike as the whole set up was just off when it came to my arm.  I am searching for a new bike style that does not have so much forward weight on my arm.... I have visions of the old fashion banana bike style perhaps...  (I hope we are both talking about the same kind of bikes - not a motorbike)  
www.sandiegofit.com/supplex4.htm    If anyone has tried this, I'd love to know how it works out.   TJ 
Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 02:02PM kira wrote:

TJ,

 My husband rides recumbent bikes, his old bike-E wore out, and they no longer make it, so he got a maxarya from Ontario, he bought it direct from the company. He loves it. His hands were getting numb on his regular bike, and he's a dentist.

http://www.maxarya.com/phpcode/index.php

There's a really helpful bike shop owner in Alfred NY who specializes in recumbents and he helped with great advice:

http://www.bicycleman.com/

There are all different styles of recumbents, and for my husband, the maxarya was a good fit, and it was easy to do the little bit of assembly required.

Kira 

Knowledge is the antidote to fear, Ralph Waldo Emerson Dx 5/10/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 02:03PM Binney4 wrote:

TJ, I have a friend at a bike shop who tells me there are a lot of options for changing handlebars so that less weight is on your arms and hands -- he mentioned a change of stem or adding "bar ends" or a couple of other options. He suggested taking "bike and rider, both" to a good bike shop and brainstorming together with their staff. It's a thought, anyhow. It probably wouldn't be aerodynamic, but it'd get you around.

Seeing as how we'll be around 115 degrees this weekend, I'm not planning any bike trips myself in the near future...Tongue out
Binney

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Jul 8, 2009 04:11PM kira wrote:

Back to the topic of the thread, I wore a cotton tank instead of the barely there crop bra, and it felt so much better: no red line around my chest when I got home.

All the suggestions are great: I'm going to check out the maidenform that Jane likes and the barely there cami's that Debbie likes, and the Hane's cotton tanks as well.

Thanks!

Kira 

Knowledge is the antidote to fear, Ralph Waldo Emerson Dx 5/10/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 04:24PM OneBadBoob wrote:

Kira--

I wore a regular bra once to go to my LE appointment, and my therapist had a fit, showing me the "red marks" and telling me how they impede lymph flow, period.

The reason I like the Maidenform better than the Barely There is that the straps are wider.  I sometimes get red marks on my shoulders from the Barely There.

I guess we are all different and have to experiment with what works for us.

But I definitely feel cami's are the way to go when dealing with LE!

I think Binney has a pattern that can be sewn into a cami t fit a prostesis, if I remember correctly.

Jane - Dance as if no one is watching!! Dx 7/7/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 04:32PM Carmelle wrote:

Have not worn a bra in 6 years. Cami with cups does me fine. And no lymphedema. I have flown about 50 times since surgery.

Yesterday is History... Tomorrow is Mystery...Today is a gift. Dx 3/7/2003, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 5/15 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 04:56PM reen wrote:

I told my husband I've regressed back to an undershirt.  No more bras for me.

First Dx. 11/2005 Mucinous Carcinoma Stage 1 Grade1 0/15 nodes Rads 2nd Dx 6/5/08, IDC, Stage 1, Grade 2, 2/44 nodes ER+ PR+ HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 05:09PM plainjane64 wrote:

Wow guys!  this is huge...I told my LE about this today and she was intrigued...I have truncal LE but am truly fascinated by this entire topic......I wore my bellisse to walk treadmill in the ac today....so far so good......I think you are onto something...I'm just satying away from the underwires...............will follow....hugs and prayers for continued relief!

xoxo, jenniferjane Dx 10/18/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2009 05:40PM bomber410 wrote:

The thing about the barely there camis and others like them is is the wide shoulder straps.  Watch out for narrow straps that may cut into your shoulders at the weight of what you are supporting.

You can visit my CaringBridge site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/deb... Dx 3/29/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 1/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 9, 2009 08:29AM - edited Jul 9, 2009 08:37AM by txred9876

TJ,

Yes we are both talking about bikes. I just got a brand new road bike and now having issues with the TE. I was looking at the unitards and was wondering about a bike pad. I am not into riding 100 miles with no bike pad! LOL

Tina

 PS I might just go ahead and sew something like this because I have the basic pattern for the top and bottom ....and  have sewed for years.

I plan to ride in the morning tomorrow because its record breakikng heat again here in Austin. Not the 115 but it may as well be! If I get out by 6:30 and home by 9:30 it should be below 100 still....lol

Dx 8/10/2005, IBC, 2cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, 2/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jul 9, 2009 09:42AM t9jorda wrote:


Tina, that's so cool if you can whip something up on the sewing machine......that is so exciting!   Fitness wear for LE designed by our very own TXRED... love it!  Do I hear a future business opportunity here for someone?  I'm just thinking outside of the box for a moment... but it seems that there is very, very little speciality wear for modified breasts/LE issues... they have addressed the arm sleeve, but not "fitness wear"... why is that?!  I'd be thrilled if I could find a unitard with shapewear compressions fabric for running/working out.... my scar runs horizontal into the armpit area,  right where the seams are for so many running tops, it is almost impossible to find something with flat finished/or no seams in that area.... (my little venting moment)....    I have my fingers crossed that you can design something that works for you...that would be just awesome.    Happy riding girlfriend, TJ 
Dx 5/12/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 9, 2009 10:23AM inspiewriter wrote:

Wow. this is interesting. I wear one more now than ever, since I am now lopsided and use a padded bra to look even.

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Jul 9, 2009 12:35PM Welga wrote:

Hello,

I'm also more confortable in cami, never could support a bra after my masectomy. In the summer thoug I find them hot under a t-shirt, so what I did is cut them about 3 inches under the breast form and sewed a wide elastic band that is not thight on my chest, just to keep the cami from running up.

Work for me, have a nice day

Welga

Dx 4/4/2006, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 1/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 13, 2009 06:32PM MaryNY wrote:

Hi OneBadBoob:

I have a question for you. Please check your PM. Thanks.

Mary ~~ lumpectomy 8/10/2009, Oncotype DX 18, Chemo 10/28/09--2/1/10 AC*4, CMF*4 Dx 5/19/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 2/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 13, 2009 06:58PM OneBadBoob wrote:

Hi Mary--I got it and replied--please send me your e-mail address (mine is in the PM) to send you the article I wrote with all of the full details why I would never recommend this surgeon to anyone.

Jane - Dance as if no one is watching!! Dx 7/7/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 13, 2009 07:53PM LeggyJ wrote:

t9jorta, I found a "flexees" cami, tried it on, and bought....Wore it today, at work, and what a difference!  Thanks! 

Leggyj Dx 4/3/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 2/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/22/2008 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel Chemotherapy 6/1/2008 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 10/20/2008 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2013 Arimidex (anastrozole) Surgery 1/7/2013 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Latissimus dorsi flap Surgery 2/21/2013 Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy 3/19/2013 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jul 14, 2009 01:50PM moogie wrote:

No doubt for me either: a bra complicates matters. In order to function it needs to be tight at either the shoulder or under the breast area. I have tried buying a really big size in a sports bra, but now only wear one if my outfit demands the contouring. The lymph flow gets trapped somewhat either way by a bra, and I get some nerve pain from my trunk that is simply not worth the trouble when good camisoles are available.

Swimsuits were hard for me to find for this reason too. Knit suits are the best, because you can stretch the shoulder straps easily and they do not cut deeply into the neck area.Walmart has a model tank right now I got for 13 bucks, in at least 4 colors by Catalina. I recommend it: attractive, good coverage, and very comfortable.

Moogie

Moogie

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