Eunice Muriuki hopes to make all breast cancer survivors feel sexy and beautiful.
In her shop in Nairobi’s Biashara Street, she stocks fashionable brassieres and artificial breasts (prostheses) of different sizes and colours for women who have undergone mastectomy.
What’s different with her shop called Simply Me, she says, is that she understand what it is like to live without a breast and walk around Nairobi shopping for a sexy bra and a perfectly-fitting prosthesis.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it did not affect me much but the day I was going to surgery is when I actually broke down,” she says.
‘‘After the surgery when they removed the bandages it’s when it hit me that I didn’t have my breast anymore.’’
Her next problem, she says, was where to get a bra and something to fill the chest so that she could look normal.
A majority of women who have lost their breasts lack options when it comes to shopping for bras and prostheses in Kenya, with some opting to fill up their bare chests with cotton wool or knitting wool.
The cancer survivor with a vibrant personality says her post-surgery challenges guide her when importing the products.
Someone who has lost one or both breasts requires a unique bra called a mastectomy bra which has pockets. The pockets are used to put in prostheses that fill the bra like a woman’s breast.
The prostheses come in two types; those made from silicon and those made from fibre. Fibre prostheses are best suited for a woman who has just left the surgery room.
Eunice started Simply Me three years ago and imports the bras and the prostheses from Germany.
“The good thing is that women now have an option with the different colours and designs which are suited for everybody. We have bras for conservative people and for those who want to try on something sexy,” she says.
In a society where In a society were women are still largely judged by their appearance, the bras and prostheses help someone rebuild her self-esteem and confidence. women are still largely judged by their appearance, the bras and prostheses help someone rebuild her self-esteem and confidence.
The bras hold the prosthesis securely that one has no fears of it falling off from the bra pocket.
For the prostheses, she has two types; one specially made for swimming and one for normal everyday life. Eunice also stocks post-surgery swimmer and gym wear.
Eunice says that if you get the correct measurements for the bra, ‘‘it is actually very hard to realise that you are wearing something artificial.’’
A bra without a prosthesis ranges from Sh5,000 and one with a prosthesis costs up to Sh15,000.
Fibre prosthesis ranges from Sh3,300. For gym-goers or swimmers, an active prosthesis costs Sh20,000. It has ripples on the inside that enable water to flow if you are swimming or in the gym and also for aeration purposes.
Eunice plans to start manufacturing the bras locally.