Breast health and diabetes

Breast cancer survivor Penny Parolis

Regular breast checks and overall breast health are twice as important for women with diabetes, as you could be at risk of developing mastopathy, an uncommon complication of diabetes characterised by tough masses that develop in the breast.

Breast cancer has also shown to be more common in women with type 2 diabetes.

November was Diabetes Awareness Month and this year the theme was “Women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future”.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, there were 2.28 million cases of diabetes in South Africa in 2015.

A major part of breast health is educating women on how important it is to be wearing the correct size bra.

Breast cancer survivor Penny Parolis, who is co-founder of Inner Secrets Lingerie, is in full agreement and offers women complimentary advice and bra fitting at their stores in Cavendish Square, the V&A Waterfront and Sea

According to statistics worldwide, as many as 80% of women don’t know their correct bra size and many of them don’t do anything about it.

A 40-something mom who still breastfed after my return to work after maternity leave, I am one of those women and when I was offered the opportunity recently to have a fitting at Inner Secrets, I was at first apprehensive. However, I was quickly put at ease by the gracious and knowledgeable sales consultant Rumi Bruyns, originally from Bulgaria, who is a fountain of knowledge on the heritage French corsetry houses, who craft their lingerie from the finest chantilly, textronic and French leavers lace and guipure embroidery. She also gave tips on how to properly fit your bra and how to care for your bra.

After some discussion on what I like (full cups, half cups, practical, pretty and feminine or a combination of all three) Rumi showed me how to measure my band size and my cup size. Adjusting the band and the straps made a marked difference to how I looked, streamlining my silhouette and improving my posture – and more confident of my femininity.

She also told me about the “scoop and swoop” method – where you put on your bra, bend at the waist and scoop all your breast tissue into the cup of the bra by placing one hand on the side of the breast and then moving the tissue from the back, near the armpit, into the bra cup before standing up to settle your breasts. This creates a smoother line under clothes, a more defined waist, and a more supported bust.

Ms Parolis said another extremely important aspect to healing for breast cancer survivors is the help of support groups.

“We are human and we need to share our feelings and challenges with others – you never know when you could be inspiring and helping someone else.

“Women are often left feeling unattractive and depressed while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Do things daily for yourself that makes you feel important and special.

“For me, wearing feminine lace lingerie had helped. I couldn’t wear underwired bras during and after treatment, so I opted for lacy bralettes. These were soft on my skin, slightly structured and made me feel feminine. It’s the small things that make the difference,” she said.