A breast cancer survivor finds her passion – with breasts…

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Perfect Again Breast FormsJulie Brand is an inspiration. Not only is she a breast cancer survivor, but through her own experience of a botched breast reconstruction, she now helps other women in their quest to feel ‘normal’ again…by developing, producing and now selling her very own range of breast forms. Here’s Julie’s story…
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There is a lot of fear around a breast cancer diagnosis. It can be a terrifying time. However, the reality is that although incidents of this disease are rising, so are survival rates.

This is marvellous, and it’s because there is money to pay brilliant minds to research this disease. The breast cancer foundations have been doing a magnificent job of raising money for breast cancer research. In fact, the National Breast Cancer Foundation wants to eliminate death from breast cancer by 2030! And I say…bring it on!

Back in 2002 when I was 45, I had a mastectomy, and a reconstruction, which went horribly wrong. When my body was recovered sufficiently, I ventured out to buy the external breast prosthesis I’d have to wear for the rest of my life. What I found was never going to work for me!

I liked nothing about it. The feel was awful. It was much too heavy. It wasn’t a particularly good fit against the shape of my new, and very uneven, chest wall and it didn’t match my other breast well. The thing they called a Mastectomy Bra was like my nanna’s brasserie.

Did I have to wear one of those forever? Everything about this breast form was unlikeable and to me, unacceptable. So I made my very own.

It was made from two pieces of latex, cast from my chest and my remaining breast in a bra. I cut a piece of foam rubber to go inside, and crudely sealed up both sides with silicone rubber. It was not a thing of beauty or refinement but at least it was light and more or less the same size as my remaining breast. So once again, I could wear tight tee-shirts – hooray!

“All I wanted after going through a mastectomy and a reconstruction gone wrong was to look and feel like my old self again”.

I then met Franco Pierucci, and we went to live in Italy for a couple of years. This was heavenly! When we came back to Australia we decided to get serious about the lightweight breast form idea. But we learned very early that about 75% of the population are allergic to latex, so we had to seek other materials.

We have been doing research and development ever since, and will continue to do so. We found women very happy to trial our experiments and slowly, slowly, we refined our product, learning ever new things along the way.

We initially took plaster casts of women’s torsos and then made a plaster breast, from which we eventually made into a personalised breast form. But plaster is a terribly dusty and drying material to work with and Franco knew there was a smart machine somewhere that could scan what we were presently casting.

He found it in Pisa, near his hometown of Viareggio in Tuscany. We just had to summon the courage to buy it (that really was the scariest part of all)! But buy it we did and it was duly shipped to Melbourne and arrived just before Christmas 2013.

One of the things we learned was that the bra is far more important than we’d imagined. We discovered that a well-fitting and supportive bra was a critical part of the process. The natural breast has to be held in a certain way to give us the scanned data required for a good breast form.

We had to find a range of bras that would complement our breast forms. We needed excellent quality bras that were highly supportive, available in an extensive size range and with long term availability.

Intimo bras meet these critia. The Intimo Collections are designed in blocks, which means the pattern and the shape of the bras remains the same, while the designs are seasonal. This in turn means that a woman’s prosthesis will fit into a range of Intimo bras, plus they have the added benefit of ongoing availability for the future.

Now Intimo have partnered us, we have the complete size range of five of their bra styles in our Lingerie Room here in the Breast Studio. I can now fit any woman into a bra that is completely comfortable for her and one that she will be happy to wear for at least the next two years. These bras are so well made that if they are looked after properly, they will last for five or more years, as will our breast forms.

Perfect Again Breast Forms offer women an alternative that they simply haven’t had before. By wearing one of these breast forms, a woman can easily, quickly, and relatively cheaply, reclaim her old bust line, her femininity, and her pre-diagnosis life. She can now really get over her breast cancer experience.

“I am passionate about improving the quality of a woman’s life following her breast cancer surgery and want to see her recover completely from this time of her life.”

Franco and I don’t have medical backgrounds. I’m an artist/craftsman who has always made things, and he’s a ship-wright, and can build, re-build, and repair absolutely anything! Between us, we just happen to have the passion, skills, knowledge and persistence to make this thing work…and it is working!

Julie Brand & Franco PierucciPerfect Again’s inspirational founder Julie Brand is a Breast Cancer Survivor changing the lives of women who’ve had breast surgery.
 
“For me it is really important for women to have a choice between the current weighted breast forms on the market, and our new lightweight custom made ones.” Julie explains, “After a mastectomy you’ll never be the same as before. However the desire to get back to your previous life is overwhelmingly strong. Our Perfect Again breast forms will help you get there”.
 
Julie Brand & Franco Pierucci
Directors
 
 

Helpful Links:

The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (Australia)

Breast Thermography (New Zealand)

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