Monthly Archives: July 2013

Review of Cami Shaper by Genie, Useful after Mastectomy, Using Microbead Breast Forms!

Well, FINALLY, eh?  I’ve promised many of you who have emailed after visiting my website (MastectomySolutions.com) that I’d show pictures of my current favorite alternative to a bra.  This item works PERFECTLY with ultra-lightweight microbead breast forms!  I’ve now used it for a few weeks, washing and wearing, and it’s passed my own tests for comfort and design.  I don’t sell the Cami-Shapers, have nothing to DO with selling them, but I’m a breast cancer survivor like you and am always looking for anything to give me some relief from regular bras digging into scars and/or riding up.  When you can find an item like this, for a reasonably inexpensive price (only $19 at Walmart, with NO prescription needed), it’s worth sharing the info with others who’ve wondered if it’d work.  Here’s the news, folks, IT DOES, and very well indeed!

CamiShaper1 This is the box to look for at Walmart and similar stores, generally located back in the bra section, not with the short regular Genie bras up near the front (those work well for some people, too).  If you don’t see the boxes hanging in a section of wall, just ask whomever is in charge of the lingerie section.  It may help to print a photo and take it with you, sometimes they have NO idea what you’re talking about until they see the picture on the box.

CamiShaper12  Here’s the size chart.  I wear a size L now, but still have a sizable waistline, so purchased the size XL and it’s extremely comfortable.  Genie bras usually run very small and I’d need two sizes larger in the short ones, but the fabric in these Cami Shapers is different, much softer and gentler on the skin, so one size larger was just right for me.  If you want a little MORE compression and you’re far enough away from your surgery, you may want to get your exact size.  Our local Walmart stores will let you take one of these into the fitting room and try it on, yours probably will as well, to make sure of getting the most comfortable size.

These come in three colors, Nude, Black, White.  The nude works well under any garment, so I’d recommend it as a first purchase, but the black would be great to wear under a sheer printed top.  I’m not that fond of white bras, but may get one of these in white as well.

CamiShaper11 This is what the Cami Shaper looks like, WITH the microbead breast forms already inserted in the ‘pockets’ woven in that were meant to hold an insert (included).  It’s really just a ‘modesty insert’ for women with natural breasts, to cover the nipple, BUT it works perfectly to shape the front of your microbead breast forms, giving you a smooth front that you’ll love for wearing knit tops… no more bra seams showing, no bra band, no fat ripples, what’s not to love??

CamiShaper2  Here’s a view from the side, so you can see how smooth the inserts look, with microbead forms behind them.

CamiShaper7  This is a view from the back, inside, so that you can see the TINY pocket opening at the underarm edge, with a bit of the microbead form showing.  Can that itsy bitsy hole for inserting and removing the ‘modesty insert’ REALLY be big enough to work a microbead form into?

CamiShaper4 Why, YES it can!  the fabric is only 4% Spandex, but it is enough to stretch like crazy, as you can see here with my four fingers stretching the itsy opening.  It takes a little time, but you can work the microbead form in bit by bit, and I just leave mine in most of the time, anyway.  I have washed this thing in the washer on gentle cycle inside a net lingerie bag, with the microbead forms still inside, then hung it to dry on a hanger, over and over…and over.  The fabric shows it a bit, looking a little like tee shirts do after washing and wearing multiple times, but I think it’s holding up quite well overall.  If you washed it by hand instead, it’d probably last you for years.

Leaving a pair of microbead forms inside, you can get dressed in MOMENTS instead of minutes, just step into the neckline and pull it up over you, same as you do a one-piece swimsuit.  Position your bustline where you want it if it doesn’t go there naturally, pull the flared ‘comfort band’ over your hips, and you’re done.  It’s even faster and easier than BEFORE mastectomy, so that’s a nice little plus.  :^)

CamiShaper14  Here’s a shot of the back of the box…. notice the underarm area?  I like that, too, covers the holes, rolls, and scars left when you’ve had extensive lymph node removal.  I’m sure they made it like that to smooth out fat rolls, BUT it does a good job of smoothing out uneven areas left from surgery as well.

Overall, I’d have to give this item a whole-hearted thumbs up for those of us who are tired of the pain of silicone breast forms and have moved to microbead breast forms.  Whether you’ve made your own from my instructions HERE or you’ve purchased a pair of the ones like them that I make for people, this garment will take you to a whole new level of comfort. 

Since the microbead breast forms only weigh an average of one ounce each, adding them to this Cami Shaper by Genie will only make the whole thing weigh about 8 ounces total, on the average, can you IMAGINE?  Only ONE silicone breast form weighs about a pound, so two silicone forms and a bra can weigh around two and a half pounds.  Compare that to a total of only 8 ounces for two microbead forms inside a Cami Shaper, and you’ll see why I’ve been recommending this for everyone else who was in pain.  I forget I’m wearing it, there’s no sensation of wearing anything, really.  That was my goal, to make microbead forms, and find a bra-substitute that would make it feel so natural, that I could go all day without having to THINK about mastectomy.

Any questions?  Just ask!

Now, I’d like to ask you a question, what’s your favorite regular mastectomy bra?  Have you found a comfortable one you’d like to recommend to others?

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will do the something that I can do.”
― Edmund Everett Hale

There was a small sign with a paraphrased quote on it that I saw & then shared recently on Facebook, thinking that it inspired me.  When a friend saw it, she said she immediately knew it was from me because she knows that’s what I believe and what I try to do.  Before then, I’d never actually thought about what I do, but yeah, I guess so.  What happened to me is this:  I had breast cancer.  I had bilateral mastectomy.  I survived the breast cancer, only to find that surviving mastectomy was more of a problem than I’d expected, and I needed solutions.

Not being able to find the answers elsewhere, I worked on solving the problems for myself.  Because the solutions weren’t easily found, it occurred to me that they should be shared with others who had the same questions I’d had, then they wouldn’t each have to ‘re-invent the wheel’, as people say.  Everyone should have an archive of solutions to go to after mastectomy, then they can discover even more answers to fine tune the basics as time goes on.  Thus was born, www.MastectomySolutions.com, and the end of ‘free time’ as I knew it.  But you know what?  I’d not change a thing. :^)

I’m not wealthy so I couldn’t donate for breast cancer research.  I’m not politically active because I don’t like debating so I wouldn’t feel comfortable lobbying.  I’m just one woman… with a little extra time, who knew how to sew, who can generally find ways to improve things, and who solved a few basic everyday problems common to many of us who had mastectomy.

Over the years, other women liked the idea, and it grew. And grew.  More photos and free patterns (along with detailed instructions) were posted.  Eventually, I even started making microbead breast forms for people who couldn’t sew or didn’t have the time available, for about what it’d have cost them to gather the supplies if they could sew, because it seemed to me that no one should have to be in pain from heavy silicone forms just because they couldn’t sew… nor should they have to do without because they couldn’t afford commercial forms.

What I’d like to do here:  pass along more frequent tips and ‘finds’ (as they come along) in addition to (but in an easier, faster way than) my website… answer questions along the way…and also ask a few myself.  Living comfortably with mastectomy is not a destination, it’s a lifetime journey, with one solution at a time.  It’s easier when women work together, so let’s get started!