FOCUS ON CANCER: Breast cancer & self-image


Breast cancer is a difficult diagnosis, and for some women, it's really tough to go through the changes:

Losing your hear, dealing with treatments, sometime surgeries.

Keeping a sense of normalcy is hard but important.

Kathy Reinhart is shopping for a bra.

"I couldn't look at my scar," said Reinhart. "Wouldn't let my husband look at it."

To anyone who hasn't heard their doctor deliver the diagnosis and advise the surgeries that often go with breast cancer, this shopping trip may seem boring, but it's not.

"Your regular breast goes in here, and your prosthesis goes in here, and it just feels like a normal bra," Reinhart described. "You can't tell the difference."

That goes a long way for women who have had surgery to get rid of their cancer.

"My husband likes it, "Reinhart added. "It just makes you feel like a woman, and you can wear low cut things again."

Sharie Conard watched her best friend battle cancer and stop doing everything else she loved.

"She stayed in her home, and she never went out again," said Conard. "I decided there had to be something I could do."

Conard opened a store, called "Studio One, inside Michiana Hematology Oncology.

"Fortunately, life goes on, and I'm constantly encouraging patients to remember that," said radiation oncologist Dr. Bihn Tran.

It's Tran's job to cure the cancer and get women like Reinhart on a path to healing, and self-esteem goes a long way.

"I always challenge patients to come back even better than they were before," noted Tran.

Reinhart's big moment happened in a swimsuit, a Studio One suit.

"I went in the swimming pool, and I forgot that I didn't have a prosthesis," Reinhart remembered. "You have to get a special swim form they call it, so it can get wet, but I forgot that it wasn't real, because when it gets wet, it actually shows your nipple, and it freaked me out, because I looked down and saw a nipple, and I cried."

"We make a change in their life forever," said Conard.

"For the first time, I felt like a real woman," said Reinhart.

"They are the heroes, and to walk that journey with them and to be able to hold their hand and to be able to make that difference in their life, they can go swimming; they can fly," Conard described. "They can do anything before that they were able to do.

Reinhart is on what she calls "the upward climb." She is cancer-free and really can't say enough about Studio One.