My name is Efrat Roman, and I’m the Founder and CEO of EZbra. EZbra’s story begins with my breast cancer experience, since I was a little girl watching my loved ones struggle with the disease, until I was diagnosed myself at 40.
A Dynasty of Women Affected by Breast Cancer
I am an artist, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a mother of two. I am also a BRCA carrier. My family has been affected by breast cancer and ovarian cancer for generations. My grandmother and her four sisters had breast and/or ovarian cancer, along with my mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 41. I grew up surrounded by this disease since childhood, and the vision of the strong and beautiful women in my family with the hair scarves and struggles was something I was used to. I was a teenager when my mother was diagnosed, and I remember how hard it was to see her struggle with the disease – not only the life threatening aspects of it, not only the pain and difficult treatments, but also the way it changed how she looked from her hair to the shape of her body.
That stayed with me, and when I was diagnosed, I experienced it for myself.
One Surgery After the Other Until I Said “ENOUGH”
I had 3 tumors in one breast, which were very aggressive. Because of my gene mutation, it was recommended that I remove both breasts and have a double mastectomy. I was up for an immediate reconstruction, and things were complicated, to say the least. I had one after the other, and ended up going through five surgeries. Before the sixth one, I remember talking to my doctor and asking “Will it ever be enough? Will they ever look like they used to?”, and she said “No.” That was it for me – I decided to cancel the sixth surgery and got a huge gorgeous tattoo on my chest and scars.
Recovery: The Mastectomy Wasn’t the Only Thing That Left Scars
Recovery from any surgery can be difficult, but I was not ready for what I experienced when I woke up in the operating room and in the coming weeks at home. Physical recovery is very hard, and I woke up with a lot of pain, scars, drains coming out of me, and limited mobility in my arms, shoulders, and chest. But as difficult and painful as that was, it gradually fades and gets better every day. There was another recovery I had to go through that I simply wasn’t prepared for – the mental and emotional recovery, which was just as scarring as my mastectomy.
I woke up in the hospital covered in all kinds of improvised bandages and tape to hold the pads and gauze to my chest. None of these bandages were made for breasts or the chest area, which made things especially complicated when I had to change them, manage the drains coming out of me, etc.
I found myself wearing a reusable compression bra with straps to keep the implants in place, and pins holding my drains in the most awkward, painful, and uncomfortable improvised way possible. The reusable bra had to be washed from all of blood and discharge coming from my wounds, which I can only imagine is not ideal on a surgical site that needs to heal and should be covered with something disposable and sterile. It was disgusting, humiliating, and painful to wash my own blood from those bras every time, and then put them back on me.
Lifting my arms was practically impossible, so I couldn’t even remove or wear the bra on my own. In the most sensitive time of my life, I had to rely on someone else’s help to change my dressings. My mother was there for me in those tough days, and it was hard for both of us. Changing the dressings often resulted in both of us in tears. I was frustrated and angry – there had to be something better than this out there. I was hellbent on finding it, and was heartbroken when I found out – there was nothing.
PTSD is Common Among Women Affected by Breast Cancer
When I started to look for solutions, I discovered there was nothing out there designed for the needs of women post-op. I came across a German study that showed that 82.5% of women with breast cancer had PTSD between the time of diagnosis and starting treatment. That is typically the time surgeries are performed.
I was shocked. How could this be true? I took me a while to come to terms that I was part of that statistic myself.
Waking up after surgery is an experience that is difficult to put into words because you are just flooded with raw emotion that overwhelms you to your core. For a lifetime, you know and recognize the image you see in the mirror, and then you blink and you’re someone else. You look different and it will never be the same again. For me, the most disturbing thing that I remember is waking up from the double mastectomy and immediate reconstruction and realizing that I don’t have any nipples. No one told me that was going to happen, no one thought it was important to mention. Even worse, I found out when the surgeon came to my room for a follow up, together with a number of students, to remove my dressings in front of them and in the process tearing the adhesive from skin which was extremely painful. That is the moment that I saw my new self. I felt violated looking at these new breasts with five strangers standing by my bed examining me – all of them not thinking for a moment that this is probably the most intimate moment in my entire life (and I’ve given birth to two beautiful children – which was less intimate than this…).
It is a traumatic experience affecting so many women. With 13 million breast procedures being performed every year, I could not understand why there was no standard of care when it came to post-op dressings.
Time for a Gold Standard of Care
I wish I had something better when I was recovering. That is what I felt, and what I heard from women I spoke to in the Breast Cancer Community. I created EZbra so that women won’t have to wish for something like that anymore, they would wake up with it in hospital and be able to use something that was designed for their post-op needs when they get home.
Sterile, Absorbent, Disposable
EZbra is a sterile post-op bra that is soft and breathable, and can absorb ten times its own weight to reduce the chances of discomfort, leaking, and staining. When you need to change, you don’t have to wash it – toss it and get a new one from a closed, sterile package.
Designed for Easy Application
One of the difficult things about putting on a regular reusable bra, or wrapped dressings, is the need to lift your arms – practically impossible and very painful after surgery. That is why many women need help to change their own dressings or bra. EZbra is designed in a way that doesn’t require lifting your arms, it just slides up slowly and closes in the front with the goal of allowing women to easily apply it on their own.
Adjustable, Compressing, and Holds Drains
EZbra is designed with a series of straps made with VELCRO® Brand closures, allowing you to adjust each side’s compression levels and fit separately, and fasten drains securely in place.
Adhesives & Latex
Many women, myself included, have had allergic reactions to the tapes and adhesives that are often used with dressings today. EZbra is adhesive-free and is not made with natural rubber latex to eliminate the risk of medical adhesive-related skin injuries (MARSI).
Feminine & Dignified
Recovering from breast surgeries often affects a woman’s self-esteem and confidence, and current improvised or reusable dressings only make it worse. EZbra was created to provide women with a gold standard of care when it comes to post-op dressing needs, and is designed to look feminine and allow women to recover with dignity.
This Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Make a Difference
Every October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, millions around the world raise awareness and do what they can to support the breast cancer community. This year, we at EZbra want to do something that can directly affect a patients’ life and help in her recovery.
EZbra has partnered with breast cancer organizations across the country with the goal of increasing awareness, donating funds, and getting actual EZbras to women who are undergoing surgeries.
How can you help?
1. Gift an EZbra to a patient
Visit the EZbra website, choose the breast cancer organization you want to support, and purchase EZbras. Those EZbras will be sent to the organization so that they can give it to patients, and EZbra will donate an additional 10% of the amount spent to your chosen organization.
2. Share and spread the word!
Help us tell the world about EZbra so that women everywhere can get the gold standard of care they deserve after surgeries. Share and tell your friends about how they can really make a difference this October.
Don’t wait for a woman to say “I wish I had EZbra”. Purchase EZbras that we will send to your Breast Cancer organization of choice and make a difference in a patient’s recovery experience.
EZbra will also donate an additional 10% of your purchase to the organization you choose.