Temporary Breast Forms
After mastectomy, some women choose to wear a temporary breast form. They are soft “fluffy” breast forms of cotton that can be worn pinned in a regular bra. This can help to fill out your clothes but does not have the weight or shape of your breast. If you choose, you can wear if immediately after surgery. In Victoria, temporary breast forms are available from the Breast Health Patient Navigator. In other island communities, please ask at your local hospital or contact call the Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service line at 1.888.939.3333.
Breast Prosthesis Bank
The Canadian Cancer Society's Breast Prosthesis Bank (BPB) provides free, permanent breast prosthesis and mastectomy bras to women in BC and the Yukon for whom the purchase of a new prosthesis is beyond their financial reach and are not otherwise covered by medical insurance. To qualify women must have no extended or private health insurance with a financial need.
The Breast Prosthesis Bank is supplied through generous donations of various manufacturers and individuals, so sizes and styles can be limited. The BPB is accessible to women in British Columbia and the Yukon.
In Victoria, the BPB is located at the Breast Health Centre at VGH. Please call (250) 727-4467 to set up an appt. with a Breast Health Nurse to assist you. If you live outside the Victoria area, please call the Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service at 1.888.939.3333 to determine the closest BPB to you.
Breast Prosthesis Stores
Many local shops have trained prosthesis fitters and offer a variety of breast forms, bras and bathing suits for women who have had any type of breast surgery. Ask your doctor for a prescription. You can also search the Canadian Cancer Society's Community Services Directory for prosthesis stores.
Fittings are usually done six to eight weeks following surgery; however, you can decide if and when you are ready to select a bra and prosthesis. Breast forms and bras are covered under various medical insurance plans. Women are advised to check with their Medical Services Plan (Fair Pharmacare) to find out their annual deductible amount and coverage information for all mastectomy supplies.
The Canadian Cancer Society loans wigs, scarves and scarf patterns for women and men losing their hair due to chemotherapy. There is no charge for this service.
In Victoria, scarves and wigs can be picked up at the Vancouver Island Lodge at 2202 Richmond Rd. Monday to Friday, Phone: (250) 592-2662.
If you live outside of the Victoria area, please contact the Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service at 1.888.939.3333 to determine the closest wig bank to you.
If you wish to purchase wigs, hair replacements, scarves, turbans or hats, wig makers find it helpful to see clients before they begin to lose their hair. Please contact your medical insurance plan to discuss coverage for wigs. For a list of wig stores, contact the Canadian Cancer Society or search their Community Services Directory by postal code.
Travel assistance is provided by the Ministry of Health for rural BC and Yukon residents who travel on BC Ferries, various airlines and buses. In some communties, trained volunteers are available to drive peple who do not have a means of transportation to and from treatment-related appointments. Call the Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service at 1.888.939.3333 for more information.
For those who need to travel for cancer care, the Canadian Cancer Society operates a lodge in Kelowna, Victoria, and Vancouver. The daily rate includes three meals a day, 24 hour nursing supervision, volunteer support and other amenities. To stay, you must be mobile and able to manage your own personal care or be accompanied by a support person. Call the Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service at 1.888.939.3333 for more information about costs and registration.
Financial assistance may be available to you. Some people have coverage under their extended health care plans or employee benefit plans. These should be explored first. Other government agencies offer aid to those in need as does the Canadian Cancer Society's Emergency Aid Program.
Learn more financial information on the BC Cancer Agency website.
To determine if financial assistance is available to you, please call:
- Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service at 1.888.939.3333
- Vancouver Island Cancer Centre's Patient & Family Counselling at (250) 519-5525 in Victoria or 1.800.670.3322 outside of Victoria.