Diagnosed ten years ago with breast cancer and now recovered, Marla D’Avanzo has a mission. She wants to let you know that “It’s okay to want to feel like your old self.” Marla combined her background in business and fashion to create a comfortable bra, the Marla Hope Bra™, post-op compression bras for reconstruction surgery.
Marla was 47 when she was diagnosed. She remembers being in a fog, and desperately trying to get information to make the best decisions. It wasn’t easy. She was scared and overwhelmed. She also points out that in the past decade, information has become more accessible. The way we receive information has changed. If we want information today, it’s as easy as Googling “breast cancer” or “breast reconstruction” on a phone.
A lumpectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation therapy was the treatment plan. Marla lost all her hair. Reconstruction wasn’t something she immediately thought about, but the appearance of her breasts after the lumpectomy made it necessary.
“One was north, and one was south.That whole journey, even losing my hair during chemo, didn’t make me feel malformed,” she says. “But that was just not going to happen in my life. I wasn’t going to feel that way. I wasn’t going to be that way.”
Sports Bra Let Down
The difference in her breasts reminded Marla that she wasn’t who she was before the cancer diagnosis. She decided to go forward with reconstruction, but with every step forward she seemed to lose a small piece of who she was before the cancer.
“Every time I had reconstructive surgeries I would come home in this horrible bra that had velcro straps on the shoulders that digs into you, and is very uncomfortable. It feels like a bullet proof vest,” she said.
She felt self conscious, which seemed unfair.
“You know after implants–and you have new boobs–you should feel sexy. If you wanted to wear something low cut you couldn’t,” she said. “The neckline on the bras were horrible.”
At the postoperative visit the all-clear was given, and Marla’s physician moved her into sports bras. That wasn’t any better, and it even confused her. What type should she buy? How much compression did she need? Should she look for molded cups, or smooth and seamless? There were so many choices.
“Most women don’t know what type [of sports bra] they need. A longline bra helps after implants,” she says. “You have incision sites under your breasts, and a long line bra helps to avoid those incision sites.”
All Marla wanted was to feel “pretty,” and a black sports bra just wasn’t doing the job. There are also recovery concerns. She explains that wearing the wrong type of compression bras can cause fluid buildup that will need to be drained.
Marla had had enough. It was time to be proactive and do something about it!
The Marla Hope Compression Bras Are Born
Marla used her design and business experience to tackle the problem. She began to design a post-op bra that would be comfortable, seamless, pretty and lightweight. Women would feel good wearing it under everything during post-op recovery.
Twelve months ago she launched her business, Marla Hope Bra. The design comes in three colors (pink, nude and black), is seamless for comfort, zips up the front, and comes in multiple sizes. Click here for more information about the design of the bra.
A woman who is treated for breast cancer is amazing. She has no choice but to find that inner strength we all have hidden, and fight for something most of us take for granted: life. That kind of struggle brings a fighter through to the other side, and what she discovers about herself changes her forever.
“I did some soul searching before I started the business. I knew I wanted to do something different in life. I knew I wanted to help people,” she said. “Those were my goals, and that is where this business was born. After cancer you really appreciate life, and you really want to make the most of your life.”
Cancer patients have so many emotions to sift through, but what Marla wants women to know is that it’s ok to want to look and feel like your old self again.
“What a dream it is to finally feel good inside and out,” she said.
To learn more about Marla’s lovely compression bras, click on the link below.