The newly designed padded inserts are way more ideal for sweaty gym sessions.

By Macaela Mackenzie
Photo: Athleta

Breast cancer affects a huge number of women-one in eight will be diagnosed at some point, according to the American Cancer Society. One in eight. That means, every year, more than 260,000 women have to make a decision about how to treat the disease.

Mastectomies-both preventative, for women with risk factors that up their chances of getting the disease, and as a breast cancer treatment-are on the rise. The major surgery increased in number by 36 percent between 2005 and 2013, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The American Cancer Society estimates that between 37 and 76 percent of women with breast cancer (depending on the stage of the cancer) opt to have a mastectomy. (Though studies suggest many of them may be unnecessary.)

Afterwards, breast cancer patients have to make yet another major choice: to have breast reconstruction surgery or not. For the latter category, it often means dealing with bulky prosthetic bra inserts that can be a pain-especially at the gym. (And getting back into exercise is super important. See: How Women Are Turning to Exercise to Help Them Reclaim Their Bodies After Cancer)

That's why Athleta is working with breast cancer survivors to make post-mastectomy life a little easier with their Empower Bra collection.

Last year, the athletic brand launched the Empower Bra, a sports bra specifically designed for post-mastectomy women with the help of two-time breast cancer survivor Kimberly Jewett. This year, the brand introduced the Empower Daily Bra, a lighter-weight version of the sports bra, along with freshly designed padded inserts. Dubbed Empower Pads, the padded cup inserts (also designed with input from breast cancer survivors) are lightweight and quick-drying-which may not seem like a big deal, but could make all the difference for post-mastectomy women during a sweaty HIIT class. (Related: Stella McCartney Designs Post-Mastectomy Bras to Make Women Feel Beautiful)

Of course, for women who choose to "go flat" after a mastectomy, choosing to wear padding is totally optional. For some women, the inserts can act as a confidence booster where others might find it way more empowering to go without. That's why it's especially awesome that the padding is optional in the Empower Bras-if you're into it, it's gym-friendly. And if not, the bras themselves are specifically designed for post-mastectomy women so you'll still feel supported and comfortable.

To support Breast Cancer Awareness this month, Athleta will donate an Empower bra for every bra (of any kind!) purchased between now and October 15 to the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. The bras will help women recovering from mastectomy surgery get back into the game. Now that's support all the girls need.


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