11/13/02 - Helping Women Survive Breast Cancer

Hearing the words breast cancer is just the first step, in a long road to recovery for cancer patients. Many times, a mastectomy follows, and women have to get a prosthesis. One Heartland nurse is making the process a little easier for breast cancer patients. Terry Bollinger fits patients for a prosthesis and special bras after a mastectomy. It's a difficult time for breast cancer patients, one that Bollinger tries to make easier by helping them survive the disease.
Bollinger says, "Normally when they come in, it's been around six weeks after they've had surgery, so they've had a little bit of time to accept it, but they may be going through chemo or radiation." Bollinger hears stories like Marie Steinhoff's everyday. "It was quite a shock when they told me it was cancer," Steinhoff says. It's been more than four years since Steinhoff battled breast cancer, but it's something that still affects her life today.
She had a mastectomy, and now has to wear a prosthesis. "It's something you don't go without," Steinhoff says. "Just like everything else in life, you're thrown a curve ball you adjust and keep on going." A prosthesis helps survivors like Steinhoff adjust. "They go through the forming of different sizes of the breast," Bollinger says. "Now they're using a lightweight silicon, like a foam that molds to the chest wall. It's similar to a real breast." Fitting women for a prosthesis and bras is necessary. "Once they've had a breast removed, they've lost that balance from one breast to another," Bollinger says. "They can have problems with their back or neck if they don't re-place that balance." It's a process that breast cancer patients have to go through, one Bollinger is dedicated to helping them get through.

A prosthesis and special bras are covered by insurance for breast cancer patients.