Leslie Candow, who had a full mastectomy on one of her breasts three years ago, says women's stores don't offer bras for women who have had mastectomies. Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
During a recent trip to the Avalon Mall with her 14-year-old daughter, it dawned on Leslie Candow that she was no longer part of a market she had been in for more than 30 years.
The 45-year-old Candow, who lives in Kilbride, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and had breast removal surgery. Since then, she's had to buy mastectomy bras at a medical supply store.
She and her daughter were looking at bras at stores in the mall. Candow saw plenty she liked, but was told the stores didn't carry mastectomy bras.
The mastectomy bras from the medical supply store are limited in style and colour. Candow said it's often hard to find matching panties. It's a far cry from the elaborate and showy offerings of most women's stores.
"It just seems that all of us have accepted the fact that we've got beige, tan, white and black bras and that's it," Candow said. "And they're not even pretty."
Candow said the fact that the mastectomy bras are typically twice as expensive as regular bras doesn't help.
"You're paying the highest kind of prices for it and you can't go anywhere else," she said.
Candow has since written letters to the head offices of a number of women's stores, hoping to persuade them to broaden their underwear lines. She wonders why women's stores can't offer mastectomy bras when there are clothing stores for taller men, shoes for large feet, and even clothing for dogs.
"There's got to be a budget in there for a mastectomy bra," she said. "You would think that someone would have picked up on this before."
Candow said more diversity needs to be offered, given the fact that over 20,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada every year.
"How about pink, red, green, or coconut? I really don't care at this point."
For now, Candow remains frustrated, but she hasn't lost her sense of humour.
"The other option is I could start dying my bras."