Two sisters – one of whom is a Stage III breast cancer survivor – have started a line of blothing that is specifically designed for the needs of breast cancer patients.
Kathy Adams, a resident of Los Gatos, California, and her sister, Susan Baxter of Carmel Valley, California, are now selling items through their Confident Clothing Company – caps, tops, and pants that are designed with cancer patients in mind.
It all started when Adams was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2006. A fitness coach for 13 years, she was determined to exercise as much as she could during her treatment. But the cotton caps that were available made her head sweat.
“I cut up some exercise clothing and a girlfriend sewed it into caps for me,” said Adams, allowing her to work out in comfort.
Adams also realized that breast cancer patients had other specific clothing needs that weren’t being met, leading to her Cool Chemo line of clothing.
“They send you home with all these drains, and no suggestions on what to do with them,” said Adams, referring to the drains which draw off excess lymphatic fluid after a mastectomy. And so her Cool Chemo Tops have special channel guides and buttoned-in pockets within to hold the drains. The pockets can easily be removed when no longer needed.
“It was a really easy solution to the dreadful drains,” said Baxter. “There’s nothing else like it on the market.”
All the clothing is made of a material that wicks moisture away from the body, and are great for exercising in – or just for extra comfort, if the patient is subject to hot flashes, a common side effect of the surgery and chemotherapy.
The pants have elastic waistbands and the tops button in front, and are easy to put on or remove, important for people who are recovering from surgery. In addition, the tops are styled so that it’s not obvious if mastectomy patients are wearing a prosthesis or not.
The clothing is suitable for anyone with limited mobility, or conditions like multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, because of the easy access features. Currently, the clothing is offered in black and navy, and more colors are planned for the future. The caps come in several different color combinations.
Baxter got involved after it was obvious that Adams’ desire to launch the business was exceeding her energy level.
The sisters, who come from a family of seven siblings, have always been close.
“I needed a way of helping,” said Baxter, who relates how helpless she felt watching her sister go through the medical procedures. “It just made perfect sense to me.”
Adams is founder and president of the company, and Baxter is the vice president of sales and marketing.
It was important to them to find material made in the United States as well as a U.S. clothing manufacturer. They also had to develop a Web site that could take orders (www.confidentclothingcompany.com), as well as getting the word out to doctors and other medical professionals.
The response so far has been enthusiastic among those they’ve talked to, including oncologists and plastic surgeons.
The sisters have also won important battles with some health insurance companies, convincing them that the clothing should be considered therapeutic garments, and a necessary medical expense. Medicare and a number of other insurance providers are willing to pay for two therapeutic garments a year.
Cost of the clothing items ranges from $29.95 for the caps to $129.95 for the chemo top.
Baxter points out that 211,000 women are diagnosed each year with breast cancer, and although medical researchers are closer to finding a cure, it still is elusive.
“I really wanted to help other women go through the journey more easily than I did,” said Adams. “That’s really important to me.”
Personal interviews with Kathy Adams and Susan Baxter