Being a rather chesty woman to start, the need of a supportive bra is no stranger to me. Without a good bra you'll find some activities annoying, even painful to preform or be a part of. So this analogy came to me quite easily:
When it comes to dealing with cancer, you need to have a good "cancer support bra". Not just any bra will do! Ask any woman what she needs from a bra (especially those c cup and up!) that she intends to where all day and she'll most likely first say "comfort". This is something we all need in our clothes and our emotional support. If it's not comfortable, you won't be able to focus on things properly. So what kind of fabric should your bra be made of? Lace and silky satin can be pretty to look and feel nice to start, but if you're trying to deal with the "hiccups" life is going to through at you, you won't be shopping for a 18+ hour bra and find a flimsy decorative undergarment. One of the most common answers for "what type of bra does a chesty woman love?" is cotton. Cotton is fresh, soft, and able to give a little when needed. Think about it: cotton grows naturally, is harvested and spun into thin threads that when woven together create a harmonious cloth that is soft but strong. Sound like a good thing to support something as delicate as a woman's bosom? This is your circle of support from other cancer patients.
Look at the cotton cloth like this: every thread is someone that has had cancer. Not necessarily your type or severity, but some form of cancer. When woven together you create a bond of relatable experiences (chemo, radiation, drugs, multiple appointments, missed work, lost friends, relationship issues, money issues, etc), and great emotional support from people that "just know". This is the fabric to start your full support bra ;)
Next part, some love it, some hate it: the underwire. Now if you're a small chested woman, you may not know the joys and pains of underwire, but from experience, this is why it's still a part of your bra:
That lovely piece of metal that semi-circles under your breast is there to help with shape and support. This can be extremely comfortable if you have a well made bra, or irritating and even painful if it's not done properly. So what is this metal blessing/annoyance? Government assistance. IF you qualify, it's wonderful and helps you cope with money issues. If you DON'T, well, it's another thing that can irritate you. You feel you shouldn't be pushed away just because you were self employed, or just out of high school, or your "family gross income" is too high to qualify. But don't thing that this piece of metal is the only option for support. Something that isn't as major but can mean the difference between total comfort or sagging, the "non wire" underwire bras. They exist! The folded cotton (remember what cotton is in this reference!) is sewn to mask what the metal does. It still cups under the breast to give that shape and support, but no metal is used. This extra folded fabric isn't just the cancer patients as mentioned before, it's also groups that are there to give you extra help when they can. Groups like YACC (www.youngadultcancer.ca) and Cancer Society (www.cancer.ca). There's also groups that are cancer type specific, but there's way too many to mention.
So what is left of the cancer support bra? There's something important that without it, the bra can be very difficult to wear and even to put on: the clasps. Actual clasps on bras can be clips, eye-and-hook, and on sports bras (they don't really have "clasps" for you men out there) it's really really strong elastic. The clasps on this bra are your family and dearly close friends. They're not part of the fabric because no matter what they do NOT know what having cancer is like. They can sympathize and they can imagine or try to logically understand it, but they do not know the feeling of a wrecking ball smashing against your wall of life when you hear the six letter "c" word is actually in your body. I don't want to make it sound like they're not important - the ARE! Without support from someone you trust the clasp isn't there and your great fabric and underwire just lay there but don't give you that total feel of comfort and support no matter what.
I'm sure there's other ways to look at it, but if you have an open relationship with your family and don't hide the real emotions you have going through your mind, find others either in support groups (online and in person) or in retreats (they're out there!!), and look for whatever assistance you can get to keep you on your feet, you'll be strutting around in a pretty freaking comfy bra!.. I guess for men it can be that perfect pair of undies ;) but that's another analogy.