BRCAnomics: Don’t Buy into Cancer Consumerism

Ah, the shower shirt ($78 + shipping), a garbage bag for showering after mastectomy. I remember seeing these kind of things when I was planning my surgery and wondering if I needed them. I was terrified and tried to micromanage the entire situation. I was ready to empty my bank account to make the experience even a smidgen less awful.

To all the scared women facing mastectomy and wondering if you need a shower shirt, I get it. I’ve been there. Now, I’m here on the other side of mastectomy to tell you that you do not need this shit.

You don’t need axillapillas ($20 + shipping each), for under your arms–regular pillows work just fine. You don’t need pink pockets ($19.99 + shipping) to hold your drains–pinning them to your mastectomy bra works just fine. You don’t need the brobe ($89.99 + shipping) to carry drains and cover up–regular pajamas and bathrobes work just fine.

Most of these products, and a zillion others, are made by companies founded by well-intentioned women who’ve had mastectomies. They’ve been through it themselves and wish there was a better way. I wish there was a better way too. Surgery sucks. It’s painful. It’s expensive. It’s inconvenient. But buying unnecessary, overpriced products that you’ll use once or twice is not going to make the situation any better or make you more comfortable. It’s just going to make you poorer and leave you with a bunch of useless stuff once you’ve recovered.

Well intentioned or not, these products sell by preying on the fears of vulnerable women facing surgery. It’s capitalism, baby: there’s lots of money to be made off of BRCA+ women and women with cancer. Cancer consumerism–you don’t need it.



7 thoughts on “BRCAnomics: Don’t Buy into Cancer Consumerism

  1. Amen! So glad to discover your blog. There are seemingly endless ways that everything related to breast cancer gets merchandized & politicized out of all sense and proportion. Lots of folks making money off us. Me? I still have to watch my bank account & live on less.

  2. I guess I would say it’s about choices and options. I never bought any of this stuff either ‘cuz I could not and cannot afford any of it either, but this doesn’t mean someone else might not like the options. And no need to keep stuff. Donate it. That’s my two cents. And yes, Kathi, you will love this blogger. I sure do.

  3. So weird I wasn’t even aware of this stuff. I’m sure I showered or bathed after surgery, but I didn’t have the shirt. I don’t remember using pillows–man I must’ve really been drugged! I slept most of the week after surgery, or just stayed glued to the TV–I had surgery on Friday and Bin Laden was killed that Sunday, so I don’t remember much more than that!

    1. Some of it could also be the differences between high risk women having prophylactic mastectomy versus women with cancer having mastectomy. For PBM, there’s often lots and lots of time to prepare and buy useless stuff you see on the internet.

      Much of my surgery is a haze too. My caregiver will say “Remember when you had your surgery and….” and I don’t remember at all. That’s probably for the best.

      1. Oh goodness Risky, you nailed it. I had surgery after chemo, so I had the proverbial chemo brain. Apparently I still suffer from it, because I could not even put that together when I commented, wondering why I missed out on all this stuff. DUH! I WAS drugged–no wonder I was ignorant of all this stuff. The only stuff I remember about the surgery is the horror–how awful it was to have a 5 hour delay for surgery while being hangry, the 6 needles in my nipple to put the dye in being the last sensation I felt before removal, how awful it was unwrapping the bandage to see what was taken. Over-priced crap simply could not, and will not bring me comfort in light of the experience.

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