Mastectomy fitting not just a post-surgical visit

Did You Know?

The American Cancer Society’s Wig Boutiques provide cancer patients suffering from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation with brand-new wigs, scarves, hats and other headwear at no charge. Wig Boutiques are located through the Chicago metropolitan area at the American Cancer Society Regional Offices as well as at hospitals and physician offices.

The American Cancer Society’s Wig Boutiques are part of the group’s Patient Navigation Services. To learn more, visit

You, or someone you love, has just heard the devastating words, “You have breast cancer.” Once you have discussed your immediate medical concerns with your doctor, a call to an accredited mastectomy boutique can help you understand what comes next.

The boutique will make an appointment for you with their certified mastectomy fitter prior to your surgery to explain and fit you for the post-surgery garment that you will wear home from the hospital. At this initial meeting, the fitter also will discuss with you the specifics of your upcoming surgery and show you breast forms and pocketed bras designed to hold those forms securely in place. For many women who have not yet decided about mastectomy versus lumpectomy or whether to have reconstruction, this conversation is often helpful in understanding their options.

Following surgery it is recommended that you spend the first six to eight weeks regaining your strength and mobility, and allowing your surgery site to heal. It is at this time that you would return to the mastectomy boutique so the certified mastectomy fitter can address your next steps as you now will have a better idea of the next phases of your treatment, such as possible chemotherapy or radiation. These treatments may affect your future needs. This is also when you will be fitted for your prosthesis and bras.

An accredited boutique will have plenty of choices and sizes in stock so you can take your purchases with you that day. They will also keep a record of your personal needs and purchases for reference on future visits.

It is recommended that you return after six months so they can check the fit and appropriateness of your items, see how they are holding up, and determine whether they need to make any changes. Of course, should you have any questions or concerns before that you should call and speak with the fitter to express those needs so they can address and/or resolve them.

Finally, a word about insurance. Many women are not aware that private insurance and/or Medicare generally help pay for their items. It is important to note, however, that you will need a prescription from your doctor for the items you will be purchasing. Accredited boutiques generally work closely with the cancer specialists in their area and, if you like, may even call your doctor’s office for you to request this prescription and ensure it includes all the necessary information.

If you are unclear or uncertain about your coverage, feel free to ask your fitter for help. Most accredited boutiques will happily take your insurance and/or Medicare information prior to your appointment and check your coverage in advance of your visit.

Pattie Cagney Sheehan is a BOC (Board of Certification/Accreditation, International) certified mastectomy fitter, who has operated Second Act in Chicago since 2008. Second Act is an ABC-accredited cancer recovery boutique in downtown Chicago, specializing in individuals who have undergone breast surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation; selling post-breast surgery prostheses, mastectomy bras and wigs, under one roof. To learn more, visit the website at