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.
Meet @AmandaSalvato. Athleta model, journalist, Capoeirista and #breastcancerawareness advocate. She’s wearing our new Daily Empower Bra, made with super soft Powervita fabric, adjustable straps, and easy on/off via front zipper and back hook. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “I had two family members with breast cancer - my Grandma and my cousin. Four years ago, I had to remove 4 cysts in my breast as a potential breast cancer. I found one of the cysts on my own when I was in the shower. My advice to all the women is to be aware and love your body, take good care of yourself, give yourself routine self-exams, and be mindful with what you eat and do. I am a strong believer that working out is one of the best medicine for the body. It's great to know that Athleta is helping women during these delicate moments of life, and created a bra that is very comfortable – but looks like any other sports bra. It's such an honor to be able to work with a brand who is doing good for the world.”
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.
“It’s finally here! I’m so excited about the New Empower Mastectomy Bra Insert. I worked with the Athleta team to develop the inserts, and now I finally get to see other women like me—women without breasts or are undergoing breast reconstruction—feel hopeful, confident and sexy again.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We’re excited too, Kimberly! Last year, our #AthletaAmbassador @kimberly_jewett educated us on how uncomfortable post-mastectomy prosthetics can get, especially during a workout. She helped us develop these first of its kind, lightweight, soft and quick-drying insertable pads. They’ll be sold at cost so that women everywhere can have access to them, and have the confidence to get back to their active routine. Tap link in bio to shop all of our mastectomy-friendly bra options.