If ever there was an example of how urgently we need to review our preconceptions about ageing, Joy Foord is it. Her looks certainly belie her 63 years and her enthusiasm for running, swimming and cycling obviously helps her keep that healthy glow and trim figure. Joy has always liked to stay fit: “I’ve never really sat still! I’m always on the go and I’ve actually done more as I’ve got older,” she explains. “I like to run, cycle and walk my dogs. But it hasn’t always been easy when wearing a standard prosthesis. I used to put on a big T-shirt over my sports bra so that no-one would see my breast form. And back in the days before I had a silicone one, I used to have to take it out of my bra after a run, wash it and wait for it to dry before I could wear it again.”
In the 30 years since her diagnosis, Joy has witnessed a revolution in the development of breast forms: “I came home from hospital with a tiny pad with cotton wool in it, and was subsequently fitted with a foam prosthesis. The main problem with these was that they were all the same shape, no matter what shape the wearer, and because they weren’t soft like the silicone ones are now, they didn’t move with your body. I had to wear clothing that didn’t cling too much, as both breasts looked different from one another. “They also tended to ride up inside my bra – there was no ‘weight’ to make them feel more like part of me – and I was constantly afraid that they would pop out. I can remember actually using safety pins to attach one to my bra, top and bottom, so that I knew it wouldn’t ride up and escape! “When I first went back to work after having my mastectomy, I asked a friend for her honest opinion and she said that the prosthesis just sort of stuck out in front and didn’t go round my rib cage as a real breast would. That was somewhat traumatic, so I guess maybe I shouldn’t have asked!”
When silicone breast forms finally came along in the early 1980s, Joy found them much easier to wear: “They were a definite improvement as they felt more natural and heavier,” she says. However, because she’s so active, even the silicone form had its limitations: “The problem with wearing a prosthesis in a bra is that when you bend forward it just falls away from your body. It was a real issue for me when I was cycling because I was leaning over the handlebars. And when I went out with the dogs, if I bent down to throw a ball for them, the same thing happened.” Joy adapted her sporting style and clothing choices as best she could, but all that changed when, on a recent checkup at her local hospital, her breast care nurse suggested she might like to try Contact.
So good “I got talking to her about my running and she explained how Contact sticks directly to your body.Immediately I tried it, I loved it. It was just so good!” Joy’s enthusiasm for Contact is boundless. “It changed my life. I train regularly and run for about eight miles. You do get hot and sweaty – I come back in need of a good shower, but my Contact is still attached to me.” Did she worry that Contact might not stay put when she was pounding the pavements? “You are always a bit dubious but knowing how good it felt when I wasn’t running, I had the confidence to try it. I’ve never looked back!”
Joy found that her Contact really came into its own in the warmer months: “I don’t find it anywhere near as hot as other breast forms because it feels like part of my body. I love to wear little tops in the summer and Contact just looks good in any neckline. When you’re shopping for summer clothes you can go out and buy something pretty and you don’t even have to think about it. I’m going on holiday to Cyprus soon and I know I can just put on a vest top with very thin straps – it makes me feel normal.
I even feel happy to look at myself in the mirror. It’s the first time I’ve felt reasonably happy looking at myself since my mastectomy all those years ago. Before, I could see it wasn’t me.” So positive is Joy about her new body image since discovering Contact that she now feels no need to hide behind layers in winter, instead wearing tight sweaters without giving it a second thought. And, should the occasion demand it, she says she would also feel happy in a skimpy evening gown: “I’d even have a bit of cleavage showing, as Contact has given me the confidence to do so.” She is also delighted with how long her Contact has lasted: “I clean it every day and at night I put it back in its box. I got my current one in December 2009 and it is still perfect.”
Something really different Joy has raised a lot of money for cancer charities over the years. She first ran the Race for Life in May 2007 and has taken part every year since then. She sometimes runs with her granddaughter, Elise, 12, and the two of them completed the ‘Santa Mile’ for a local children’s hospice last Christmas. Joy is thankful that running resulted in a special discovery: “It was my fitness that led me to Contact and it has transformed my life. Wearing the right prosthesis for your lifestyle is as important as, say, buying decent running shoes if you do as many miles as I do, to protect your knees and ankles. If you have something appropriate for what you are doing, it just makes such a difference.”
Would she recommend Contact to other women?
“Definitely! The bras with pockets are brilliant to wear with an ordinary prosthesis and I know some women don’t trust a self-adhesive breast form. But you just have to try it – you will be convinced. “We are always so quick to criticise and moan about things when they are not right. But when something comes along that is really different and better than anything that went before it, I think you have to say so. I can’t speak highly enough about Contact. And I know it has worked wonders for my self-confidence. I told my friend that I was about to do this interview and she looked at me, amazed. ‘I thought you’d had reconstruction,’ she said. Comments like that are proof enough that Contact doesn’t just work well – it looks good too!”
What makes Contact so special? Whether you’re always running around or just love the idea of a breast form that really feels like it’s a part of you, Contact could be just what you’ve been looking for. Contact breast forms are amazing because they have an integrated adhesive surface on the inside, which attaches the breast form directly to your chest wall. If ever you’ve worn hold-up stockings or a strapless bra, you’ll be familiar with the type of adhesive Contact uses – very gentle to the skin, it combines firm adhesion with easy removal and has been a favourite of the fashion industry for years.
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