CLEVELAND – From a young age, Elizabeth Chabner Thompson knew she wanted to be an oncologist. Her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother all battled breast cancer, and she wanted to help other women navigate their journeys. However, in 2006, it was time for her to embark on her own.
“I was working as a radiation oncologist,” Thompson said. “I was also raising four children, my youngest being two. I had a family history that was worrisome in terms of genetics, so I met with a genetic counselor.”
Thompson learned her risk was “high enough” to consider preventative measures. “I had a hard enough time sleeping at night with four kids,” she said. “If I have to have chemo or go daily for radiation, how am I going to manage that? I was not a gambler.”
Thompson made the brave and difficult decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy with direct-to-implant surgery. It was after this experience, Thompson realized her new calling.
“I woke up from surgery and I had this really sophisticated procedure, but I looked down and I was itchy and I couldn’t figure out what I was wearing,” Thompson said. “It was an old scratchy cotton white bra that looked like it was designed in 1970 for procedures that were done back then.”
After recovering, Thompson designed the Masthead Pink Bra, which is now used by hospitals all over the country to help patients get through the healing process of a mastectomy. The five points of Velcro help with swelling, comfort, and support. It also has rings to hold drains commonly used by doctors.
“It enables you to really take care of yourself and enables your family to have one less thing to worry about sourcing at the time of surgery,” she said.
The bra, as it turns out, was just the beginning for Masthead Pink. Thompson went on to create a growing line of products she hopes to empower women of all shapes and sizes during recovery. “I have enormous satisfaction in my daily job because when I go to work, I can help hundreds, sometimes thousands, of women in a day.”
This year’s Fox 8 Fox Trot benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, whose mission is to come up with new treatments and advancements. Sign up to participate in the one-mile walk or 5K race here.