Slight increase in price for microbead breast forms….

Well folks, it’s that time of year again, when we add up receipts and figure costs of manufacturing something, and discover that when we weren’t looking, prices went up!

This year, I had noticed that once I added more sizes of microbead forms, particularly larger ones, and more customizations that could be added so that people with single side mastectomy or implant problems could also be served, suddenly I was ordering a LOT more microbeads than usual.  In the medium range sizes, I can make several from a bag, but in the larger sizes, I can only make one or two orders sometimes, so… that also meant that fabric didn’t go as far, so I was ordering up to 50% more, and..well… way it goes.

When making these starts cutting into my own budget, I have to make some changes, so this time, it’s $4 per pair for the increase.  It should have gone into effect on January 1st, but I’ve been running behind with everything while being stuck either in bed or a wheelchair while recovering from some ankle injuries.  Seriously, you’d have fallen over laughing to watch me sometimes, lol…but where there’s a will, there’s a way!  Propped my feet up and went right on sewing.  :^)

Are you wondering why a few microbeads more or less make a difference?  Well, it doesn’t actually START there.  It starts with things like having to keep 3 sizes of shipping bags in stock to accommodate the increase in sizes, plus triple the bubble wrap, plus a LOT of printer ink for the shipping labels, higher internet costs, two sewing machine repair/upgrades, finding better thread that costs 60% more but doesn’t jam machines, extra fabric for the additional layers in the customizations for the stretchy-back forms, keeping stocked with the really GOOD fabric that wears well, switching to a better type of lining, paying for upgrading the website to make it easier to read for all the thousands of mobile users that are now logging on (sometimes reading on their phones while having chemo…), the PayPal costs to process credit payments and…then… there’s the microbeads that went up in price and don’t go on sale as often.  To top it all off, many who use UPS to ship to me, increased their shipping to cover their increased costs.  So…yeah… is it any wonder that I don’t realize how great the cost of doing this is until once a year after all the receipts are tallied?  lol… Yep, knew you’d understand.  :^)

Normally, I try to absorb the extra costs for as long as possible, but this past fall, we had a little money problem ourselves.  Wait’ll you hear THIS craziness!  After getting insurance to help with putting a new roof, as well as some help from family, we went to a local company we trusted to ask for recommendations for roofers.  To make a long story short, the counter-guy was part of a team of ‘less than talented or honest roofers’, who proceeded to take us for almost $8,000, and left us a roof barely attached.  It was a metal roof, with very few screws, NO mastic sealing anywhere, no vapor barrier, and on the back half of the house, they didn’t even put on the insulation we’d been charged for, they just tacked on little strips around the edges so we’d THINK it was up there, so… rain sounded like a steel drum, sigh…

They didn’t even use the right kind of screw guns, so they put the screws in either crooked or totally missing the strips they were screwing to, or put them in so tightly that they broke the rubber washers on the screws, so they leaked.  It was AWFUL…. leaky, unsafe, not to even begin to describe how terrible it looked from the ground.  We had to remove it within days, or risk the entire thing blowing off and harming someone.  Thank God we did, because when we went to lift off the boards they’d nailed down to screw the roofing panels to, we found they lifted off easily by hand because because of the wrong type nails being used.  One hard wind, and our roof would have been lifted completely off, landing on who knows who in our neighborhood.

We had to start over and  buy all new materials AGAIN since they’d damaged the previous ones so badly.  Essentially, we had to put on two complete roofs within weeks.  Thankfully, a nephew experienced in roofing had mercy on us and painstakingly removed and repaired the damage the bogus roofers did, then installed a BEAUTIFUL strong roof that should last 75 years.  He did it alone, single handed, in between his own family life and work, having to take a couple months to repair the damage the four or five bad guys did in a week.  And STILL, he totally put on a new beautiful long lasting roof.

Though it was the most expensive few months of our lives, and we’ll never financially recover from it, we try to see the good that came from it.  We ended up with a far better and more beautiful roof than we ever could have had if we’d hired a good local company to come repair and replace it all, because our nephew wanted us to have something extra good to help us get over having such a horribly devastating thing happen.  We got to know and appreciate him a lot more fully as he frequently stayed with us for a week or two at a time to get the work finished before winter rains could come.  My husband and I grew to totally adore that young man and we miss him when he’s not here…trying our best to convince he and his wonderful family to move here permanently, and we look forward to every visit.

The bad part is that now, after having to replace the roof twice like that, we can’t afford to completely repair the interior ceiling areas left damaged and can’t afford to replace the flooring.  We’d planned to take up the carpet and put down hard flooring in case we got to the point of needing wheelchairs again.  And…wait for it…DURING all this with the roof?  I acquired wounds to both ankles from crawling through my best friend’s window when she locked herself out of the house, and the doc said my ankles wouldn’t heal unless I stayed in bed with elevated feet and used the wheelchair when getting around.  You can’t make this stuff up, folks, lol… when life happens, it HAPPENS!  Sure could have used those hard floors while in the wheelchair.  I’m hoping to be out of this wheelchair for good soon, as I’m considerably improved and can maybe see the end of weekly visits to the wound center within another month or two.

We’ll repair the damage to those ceilings a little at a time, maybe even eventually get to replace the carpets with hard flooring a room at a time as we can afford it, and someday things will get done, but…well… going to have to use all our own money toward that from month to month as we live on a fixed income.  That keeps me from having extra money to take up the slack when making microbead forms for my non-sewing website readers, no matter how much I love doing it.  And all that, my dear readers, is why I’ve increased the cost of making the microbead breast forms for you by four dollars a pair.    Kinda seems cheap, now, doesn’t it?  lol… I guess it’s all in knowing ‘the rest of the story’.  :^)

A rare sighting, but a must-have for mastectomy survivors!

OK girls…I know, I know, it doesn’t take much to get me all excited about potential mastectomy clothing, but just today at Walmart I saw a rack of stretch lace long sleeved tops (made like snug tee shirts) for about $9.99 and thoroughly meant to go back and buy one for myself but forgot, silly me!  Why on earth would I WANT a see-through lace tee-shirt, you may well ask?  WELL, good question.

A few years back when investigating ways for us with mastectomy scars to still wear garments with deeper necklines and armholes, I saw long sleeved stretch lace tops on a mastectomy site, made to wear under everything from daytime garments to very dressy evening wear.  They were quite expensive, but an awesome idea, and would let us wear almost anything we did before mastectomy without showing off our scars or the hollow area in our upper chest wall above our breast forms.  Yes, you can see a bit of skin through the airy stretch lace, but it camouflages the little scars and such, and the lace sleeves even make lymphedema less noticeable in an arm.

Now get this….the ones I saw  today looked almost EXACTLY like the expensive version! Normally, just the lace yardage would cost triple the price, so these are a steal.  I only saw them in black, but there may be more colors.  They would be awesome under ANYTHING, even swimsuits (worn either under or over).  So, if you have been driving yourself bonkers trying to find a dress for some special occasion and found them ALL too revealing, grab your keys and fly off to Wally-World quickly before the stretch lace tops are all gone!  If your store doesn’t have them, keep checking, as I’ve found that not all stores have the same items at the same time. But please… be a peach & leave one in size XL for me, OK?  Thanks!

Happy New Year to all of my friends! The 2014/2015 update:

Sending best wishes for a Happy New Year to all of my MastectomySolutions friends! May we all have a safe and healthy 2015. Love and hugs to everyone!  Remember, every year brings us both happiness and heartache, but we can choose to remember the good parts and work on making the difficulties better. Life is pretty much what we make of it once we get beyond the parts we have no control over. Let’s take control.

I choose to look forward with joy to the new year, surely it’ll be better than the past one, lol…  Those of you who correspond regularly, know that I’ve been sidelined for a few months in a wheelchair and/or bed-rest (nothing terrible, just some annoying minor ankle problems that required a lot of resting and elevating the ol’ tootsies to heal) but I’ve kept the website going and hope to see it grow with more info this coming year.  I’m still sewing almost daily, making microbead breast forms for everyone possible, just at a slightly slower speed,.. occasionally taking from 2 days up to a week before yours is sewn and shipped.  You’re in my prayers, and I’d appreciate being in yours, that I can be up and walking regularly within another few weeks.  You won’t believe the plans I have for the website this year, but it would go much faster if I were in the upright and locked position, lol…  That’s it for 2014, tomorrow morning is 2015, let’s get going!


Three new sizes just added!

Hello friends!  Just today realized that I’d not yet added two sizes that I’d been making for a while for people who asked… the size 3XSmall and the size 6XLarge, which have both turned out to be oft-needed sizes.  Usually I quietly make new sizes for people who ask, test them out for awhile, and if it’s right, then they get added to the website.  These should have been there awhile ago, so I’m sorry for the delay.  Someone just ordered a size 7XL so I decided to go ahead and put that one online and available as well.  Haven’t yet added the newest patterns for those who may want to sew them, not enough time today, but will get around to it as soon as I can.  Right now, am too busy sewing microbead forms for everyone in between taking care of hubby and the house.

So, for those of you who have been waiting for more sizes, they are now here!  I’ve ALSO redone the size chart a little bit so that maybe it’s somewhat easier to read and to see the progression of the sizes for the microbead forms as the bra size goes up or down.  You may notice SOME bra sizes that are not common, but the chart makes more sense when as many as possible are shown.  If your size isn’t shown for some reason, you’ll now be able to see the progression and be able to find the closest size to what you need.  You can view the new chart here: and if there’s a size you need, go to the ‘Items for Sale’ page here:  items-for-sale.php to order.  As of today, I only have one more pair to make, so I’m keeping up pretty well most of the time.

That brings it up to a grand total of 13 sizes available, in 3 colors (light nude and dark nude/tan, and also in a matte black that matches black bras and swimsuit linings).  There’s always further customizations to make them fit better for those with unilateral as well as for those with bilateral mastectomy.  As long as my hands and eyesight will work well enough to do this, will keep making them and posting more info to the website.  If you see mistakes, by the way, would surely appreciate your pointing them out, because every time I look at it, I find SOMETHING more that I’d not noticed.  Helps to have fresh eyes look so that my embarrassing misspellings and any dead links can be found and corrected.

Remember, if you’re not sure, you can always write to me and I’ll look up your size and see if it matches something I already make, and if it doesn’t, I may be able to draft a new pattern for your size and do it anyway.  That’s the beauty of being one woman sitting at home with my sewing machine, and not having to only make sizes that fit ‘most’ people, and being able to do this to help other surivors, not a business.  I can make any size for anyone at any time, and add customizations to make it fit even better when needed, so there’s no reason for anyone to have to be uncomfortable with Silicone forms this summer or any time.

Mary :^)

New photo tutorials added, a new checklist for ordering, etc…

Hello, friends!  Some of you know that for a LONG TIME I’ve been promising to add a photo tutorial on my website to show you a simple way to remove some microbeads from your microbead forms when they’re too full or ‘perky’.  You also wanted a photo tutorial on how to close the adjustment tubes that I’ve been providing some of you with.  Both techniques have been especially popular with those who’ve had single mastectomies and needed to match a remaining breast.

Then, what about those who have multiple, or ‘more unusual’, adjustment needs.  A CHECKLIST of options has been needed so that you’d know from the start what changes could be made on your microbead forms to make them suit you better. There’s no extra charge for any of it, it’s just something that very much needed to be done to make it easier to accomplish what we’re already accomplishing together, but it took multiple emails before to get it done right.

Well, it’s DONE!  You can find it all on the “Items for Sale” page near the center top area.  There are links to all of it.  If you find errors, please let me know so it can be fixed. Somewhere on the website, I’m pretty sure one photo was accidentally replaced with another one being uploaded that has nothing to do with the text where it’s at. Haven’t been able to find it yet, too tired, and it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.  You know me, if it stands still, take it’s picture, so there’s a lot of pictures, lol…

Just stayed up all night long completing this batch of work, but have been working with some of you for weeks or months who agreed to be my ‘test subjects’ to work out the various things that needed to be added or corrected.  Thank you all for your help and patience, you’re a wonderful bunch of people (you know who you are, dear hearts!), and it’s been fun, but I’m going to bed now to see if I can get to sleep before the sun comes up.  It’s going to be a close call… Zzzzzzzzz

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 ( 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,, 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!