Well+Good

How this one bra could make a difference for breast cancer survivors, according to a cancer surgeon

If you (or someone you know) has gone through the experience of a breast-cancer diagnosis and surgery, the last thing you want to worry about—really, the very last thing—is finding a bra that fits comfortably after the procedure, so you’re not delayed even a hot minute from getting back to the things you love.

“It’s disruptive enough to have your whole life turned upside down after finding out you have breast cancer,” says Anne Peled, MD, a San Francisco-based plastic surgeon who specializes in cancer surgery. “To then also have to struggle with finding a well-fitting bra after surgery can feel like the last straw in terms of trying to get back to your pre-cancer life and routine.”

Dr. Peled knows that struggle firsthand because she’s a survivor, too. After years of studying breast cancer and performing lumpectomies and reconstructive surgery, Dr. Peled found herself on the patients’ side of the desk. And once she went shopping for her own post-surgery bra that would hold up to her beloved HIIT workouts, she knew she had some valuable input to share.

“The Empower Bra represents a true commitment to women’s health, and to getting women feeling whole again.”

That’s when Athleta tapped her to consult on the creation of the second Empower Bra, a sports bra first introduced in 2017 designed specifically for women pushing through breast-cancer recovery and to help them stay active after surgery.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women in the U.S are affected by the disease, which is why this October, Athleta is doubling down on its commitment to survivors and dropping a second, yoga-inspired version of the Empower Bra.

“The Empower Bra represents a true commitment to women’s health, to getting women feeling whole again, and to making an important part of a scary and potentially overwhelming journey feel safer and more in control,” Dr. Peled says. Right on.

Keep reading for the specs of the game-changing bra, plus how you can do your part to spread more Empower Bras to breast-cancer survivors.


Physical support

The Empower Bra is all about helping women feel supported emotionally (instead of feeling like a forgotten demographic) as well as physically—which is why the bra was designed with several specific features.

First, the bra has adjustable straps to accommodate women’s changing bodies. “One of the common complaints I hear is that bras aren’t able to adapt well for the changes that happen over time after surgery, such as swelling going down, which can change the size and shape of the breasts,” Dr. Peled explains.

It also has a thick band at the bottom to keep them from sliding around and rubbing on incisions (another common complaint), a zip front closure and a pocket for an optional insert “for women who haven’t had breast reconstruction but want to maintain their shape during exercise,” Dr. Peled says.

Speaking of inserts, Athleta also recently introduced Empower Pads, lightweight, moisture-wicking inserts designed as a workout-friendly alternative to bulky medical prosthetics.

“I love that it looks and feels like a really great workout bra…which can help women move beyond their breast cancer and get back to feeling more like themselves.”

With the second Empower Bra, women can tackle crane pose and slip it on easily for everyday wear (it’s designed with two straps rather than a racerback, based on customer feedback Athleta crowdsourced in the last year that racerback styles can be uncomfortable for women who have had surgery for lymph node transfer).

“I love that it looks and feels like a really great workout bra, rather than a surgical recovery bra, which can help women move beyond their breast cancer and get back to feeling more like themselves,” says Dr. Peled.

And being made for real-life activity was an important piece for Dr. Peled, not only because she’s a fan of triathlons but also because she’s seen how influential exercise can be in recovery.

“I encourage all of my patients to try to stay active during their treatment,” she says. “Exercise has been shown to make a huge difference in helping with side effects from treatment, help women recover psychologically, and decrease the chance of breast cancer coming back in the future.” That’s a triple whammy of reasons to pull on your workout gear and get sweaty.

Good news: When you buy any Athleta bra from October 2 to October 15, 2018, Athleta will donate an Empower Bra to UCSF’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center up to a maximum of 2,500 bras. 

In partnership with Athleta

Photos: Athleta