NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When actress Angelina Jolie told the public about her double mastectomy, it put new attention on the struggles of women facing breast cancer. For many, the trouble continues long after surgery is over.
On Monday, CBS 2’s Alexis Christoforous caught up with a New York entrepreneur who has found a way to help survivors feel beautiful.
Patricia Brett designs swimwear to suit a woman’s body after breast surgery.
She understands the challenge first hand. Brett’s family carries the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which dramatically increases the odds of breast cancer.
“I have that mutation and 10 years ago at the age of 39 I had a risk-reducing bilateral mastectomy,” Brett said.
Brett said she spent hours trying to find bathing suits that fit after surgery.
“Most of the swimwear was really matronly. It had skirts on the bottom, in loud floral prints,” she said.
Brett finally decided to make them herself, using the design skills she’d learned as an architect.
She named her company Veronica Brett, after an aunt who died of breast cancer. Three years later, the suits are selling out.
Brenda O’Brien said she discovered the line after having breast cancer and a double mastectomy.
“It was like a dream come true because I knew when I first put it on that it fits, it covers everything,” O’Brien said.
Each suit comes with hidden pockets for inserts. They have wide straps and come high under the arms to cover scars, but without looking frumpy.
“That was really my goal, so a woman could forget all about breast cancer and look phenomenal the way she did before,” Brett said.
Brett sells her suits in boutiques and on the web sites shopbop.com and soma.com. She said it’s the hardest job she’s ever had, but also the most rewarding.
Brett’s suits cost more than $200 each, but said she hopes to eventually produce a lower-priced line as well.
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