ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – Breast Cancer Awareness Month may be coming to an end, but one Delta County business offers products for those affected by breast cancer all year long.
For Linda Romps, an LPN and Certified Fitter-mastectomy, breast cancer is a topic close to her heart.
“It runs in my family,” she said. “My mother was very young when she had a bilateral mastectomy, and then I ended up with breast cancer and I was only 38 years old.”
Romps decided she wanted to help others facing the same diagnosis.
“I was going to do custom forms in people’s homes after my full-time job as a nurse,” she said. “It kind of snowballed because I ran into Medicare and they needed an address.”
She opened U.P. Bras That Fit on Ludington Street in 2006. The store carries products for women of all shapes and sizes.
“We started out with two bras and now we have over 8,500 bras,” said Romps.
U.P. Bras That Fit has a number of products for breast cancer fighters and survivors, including those preparing to undergo a mastectomy.
“We encourage people to come in before they have surgery, because we have the time to talk to them and show them things they’re going to go home with,” Romps said.
One specialty bra is designed to be used with the Jackson-Pratt drain.
“It takes the drainage away and the swelling away after you have surgery,” Romps explained. “This bra here has a little pocket to hold this secure—because this is sutured in on the side—that way everything is secure under the clothing, because not everyone wants everybody to know they’ve had breast cancer.”
Following a mastectomy or double mastectomy, Romps fits patients with a breast form.
“It’s silicone,” she said. “It feels real, so if you’re hugging somebody, they can’t tell the difference. These just go right in the bra pocket.”
For someone who has had a lump removed, U.P. Bras That Fit offers shaper forms.
“This would go over the regular breast,” said Romps. “We have different thicknesses, and this would even them out on each side.”
There is even a beaded form to wear inside a swimsuit.
“It goes right in the pocket of a mastectomy swimsuit, which we carry year-round,” Romps said. “We have swimsuits from size 6 all the way to size 26 here in the store.”
A more tailored option U.P. Bras That Fit offers is a custom form.
“If you have an irregular chest wall after surgery, we use a CAD program and we scan the chest wall, and we make a breast form that will fit right in here just like a puzzle piece,” said Romps. “We match the color to their chest wall. They’re hand-painted and made in Georgia.”
Standard mastectomy products—excluding swimsuits and some other items—can be billed to insurance. Romps is advocating for bills that would require Medicare to cover custom forms.
“It took over ten years to get the lymphedema sleeves to be covered under Medicare,” she said. “We worked hard on that one and made many phone calls every month. Now, it’s time to work on the breast form custom, and it’s called ‘Let Her Decide.'”
Romps says her goal is to provide some comfort and hope to women fighting through and taking on life after a breast cancer diagnosis.
“I want them to feel whole again,” she said. “80% of people who have breast cancer and breast surgery lose a little bit of their confidence. We hope to regain that back for them so they feel comfortable going out in public and comfortable hugging their grandchildren.”
Romps also sees patients by appointment monthly in Houghton. To make an appointment or to inquire about a product, call U.P. Bras That Fit at (906) 786-2724.
U.P. Bras That Fit is located at 816 Ludington Street. The store’s hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.