TAMPA - "Fish on! How about that! There you go." Andrea Adair loves to fish.
She invited me to cast my own line as she explained why fishing is one of the first things she thought about when diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in the same breast.
"This being my right side, my casting arm because I had had radiation before I was going to be looking skin graphs so I didn't want to do any kind of reconstruction that was going damage my pectoral muscles because I do like to paddle and canoe as well. I wanted to be able to go right back to that."
For her, breast reconstruction would have taken three surgeries over a year or more. She thought she'd have to opt for a standard breast form you can find at any mall.
They're hot, she says, heavy and not conducive to her active lifestyle. "I wasn't aware that the custom breast prosthetics were even out there. In my eight years between my diagnosis and being active in the breast cancer community fundraising and meeting other women, it was not an option I had ever run across before."
But a local company right here in Tampa is now making custom breast prosthetics. David Robinson takes the same time and care he uses to create hands, fingers, toes and noses to recreate real feeling and looking breasts. "It's made of a safe platinum silicone. We put an additive to it that turns it into a gel so you can feel it and it feels very natural."
The big difference in this compared to a standard breast form? Andrea says, "For me the custom prosthetic feels like a part of me. It's self adhesive, so it stays in place, and it's a personal process getting one, because they do a cast of your chest wall and mine is actually a mirror image of the surviving breast that I have. So it looks like me. It's colored to match my skin."
It allowed Andrea to get back to what gives her joy, the water, the dolphins and finding a great flat with plenty of speckled trout and red fish. "The things I wanted that were the most important to me were happiness, freedom, piece of mind and love. Three of those I get with the prosthetic."
Most insurance companies will cover the cost.
Find out more about Westcoast Brace and Limb at http://www.wcbl.com
Find out more about Ladyfish Charters at www.ladyfishcharters.com