The Process : Your Next Steps
You, or someone you love, has just heard the devastating words, “You have breast cancer” and then “but . . . “. Ah yes, there is always a “but” like; but you have options, or but with surgery you can go on to lead a normal life. And let’s not forget, “your hair loss will just be temporary”. Leaving you to wonder, “Normal? Who thinks living with one breast, or no breasts, or bald is normal?”
At Second Act we can help you find, and adjust to, your new normal. We have solutions. So how do you get there? By taking it one step at a time, just like you do with everything you are facing in this strange new world.
But first, we invite you to watch this short informational video, Completing the Circle of Care.
Step #1: Call us.
Every day we get calls from women who say “I’ve been told I have breast cancer and will be having surgery. Someone said you could help, but I don’t even know what you do or what to ask”. Our Certified Mastectomy Fitter will guide you through this conversation covering things you didn’t even know you needed to know. We encourage you to meet with us prior to your surgery so we can discuss the various stages of your journey, show you the products available to help you and explain how we can assist you along the way.
Step #2: Come and meet with a member of our specially trained staff.
At this meeting we will introduce you to our Certified Mastectomy Fitter who will discuss with you the specifics of your upcoming surgery. For instance, she will explain how the post-surgery garment has pockets to hold the bulbs that gather fluid from your drainage tubes, making your first 7 – 10 days post-surgery easier to navigate.
At this first meeting we will also show you breast forms, or prostheses, that replicate a natural breast. For women who are planning reconstruction this may be a temporary prosthesis or, for those who are not having reconstruction, it may be a permanent, silicone prosthesis that she will wear in a pocketed bra. We will also show you a range of pocketed post-surgery bras that hold these prostheses securely in place. For many women who have not yet decided about mastectomy versus lumpectomy or whether to have reconstruction, this conversation has been helpful in understanding their options.
Finally, we can also discuss wigs at this initial meeting. For some women, especially those whose chemotherapy is scheduled before their surgery, this helps them prepare for possible hair loss. We will show you different wigs, explained how they are constructed and, if you like, let you try some on. We can also show you hats, scarves, and other head-covering options.
Step #3: Have a professional fitting for your garments.
We generally recommend you be fitted at this initial meeting for the post-surgery garments that you will wear in the days immediately following surgery. However, if you are still in the exploratory stage, perhaps your surgery date has not even been set, you may wish to wait and have this done at a later date. In any case, prior to your surgery we will take the measurements that will be important for your post-surgery needs so we are ready to move forward when you are.
Step #4: Your return visit 6-8 weeks after surgery.
It is generally recommended that you spend the first 6 – 8 weeks after your surgery regaining your strength and mobility, and allowing your surgery site to heal. This would then be the appropriate time to revisit us for your actual bra and prosthesis fitting.
Whereas we may have determined your proper bra size on your previous visit, we cannot fit your prosthesis until after your surgery so we can assess your specific situation. By this time, you will also have a better idea of the next phases of your treatment, such as possible chemotherapy or radiation, as these may affect your future needs.
Step #5: Our ongoing relationship.
We are now ready to discuss your future, ongoing needs and how we can best serve you. It is recommended that you come to see us every six months so we can check the fit and appropriateness of your items, see how they are holding up, and determine whether we need to make any changes. Of course, should you have any questions or concerns before that we hope you will call us and express those needs so we can address and/or resolve them.
Step #6: Finally, a word about insurance.
Many women are not aware that private insurance and/or Medicare may help pay for their items. If you are unclear or uncertain about your coverage, you are welcome to share your insurance and/or Medicare information with us prior to coming in so we can check your coverage for you in advance of your visit.
We will also explain the need to have a prescription, also called an order, from your doctor for the items you will be purchasing. We work closely with many of the cancer specialists in the area and, if you like, can even make the call to your doctor’s office to let them know you will be coming to see us and will need a prescription at that time.
It is important to note, however, that having a prescription does not guarantee coverage. It still depends on the specifics of your policy or plan and, in the end, it is your responsibility to understand what is, and is not, covered.
Finally, we will ask you to bring your prescription and your insurance and/or Medicare cards with you to your appointment with us. Once you have finalized your purchases we will take care of the paperwork filing the claims with Medicare or your insurance company on your behalf.