October 26, 2017
Since 2011, Dr. Lea Blackwell, a 21st Century Oncology affiliated breast surgeon, has sought to redesign the bra given to breast cancer patients after undergoing mastectomies, biopsies, and lumpectomy surgeries. Now, the Blackwell Bra is one step closer to production for all breast cancer patients.
It all started when Dr. Blackwell kept hearing the same complaints from her own patients: the old bra is scratchy, restrictive, and does little to minimize the discomfort post-surgery.
Dr. Blackwell worked closely with a local seamstress to create a bra made of soft, slightly stretchy material with a lower cut that won’t irritate skin and increases arm mobility. The bra features front pockets to hold drains or ice packs, depending on the patient’s needs at that time. In addition, Blackwell bras have lifejacket-style buckles to fasten, unlike Velcro on traditional designs, which irritate sensitive skin and require two people to close.
Patients who were given Dr. Blackwell’s new design raved about their restored independence and improved comfort level. One recipient was Dr. Blackwell’s own co-worker, Ellen Poage. As a nurse practitioner, Ellen never anticipated she would become a patient herself, but was impressed by the difference the Blackwell bra made in her post-surgery recovery.
It took several years and patent filings for her design, but Dr. Blackwell is now starting production on the Blackwell Bra. Her goal remains to help improve the lives of breast cancer patients across the country. Sometimes, just the right kind of support can make all the difference.
Dr. Blackwell spoke with Fort Myers TV station WINK about her new bra. View the video below.