More than a patient; a person – Emily Campbell, of Nicola Jane – Mastectomy wear specialists

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INGA Wellbeing patient clothing company spoke with Emily Campbell, from Nicola Jane, the UK’s leading Mastectomy wear specialists, on the importance of maintaining your femininity after breast cancer. As a small, family-run business Nicola Jane has been helping to rebuild their customer’s confidence and restore femininity for over 33 years and is passionate about ensuring that their customers see themselves as much more than a patient; a woman.

In your professional opinion, is it important that those receiving medical treatment see/feel themselves, and are seen by others, as “more than a patient; a person”? If yes: why? (If no: why not?)

Our Nicola Jane ethos is ‘helping to restore confidence and femininity after breast cancer’ so our whole outlook is about the importance of how a person feels and how we can help regain a positive view both emotionally and physically. It’s incredible the difference it makes when a customer has been fitted with a good fitting bra and a prosthesis that makes her feel even and balanced.  They often walk out of our shops filled with a new found confidence and sense of ‘I can feel like I did before cancer’.

Based on your experience, what is the greatest challenge to ensuring that those receiving medical treatment feel/see themselves, and are seen by others, as “more than a patient; a person”? And, why?

Based on the experience we have had at Nicola Jane with our customers, one of the greatest challenges we find, is that during treatment and surgery a woman will see herself as a patient and will struggle to know how to return feeling ‘normal’ again. We have found that ladies often worry how about how and if they will feel feminine again, as they did pre-surgery. For some women this will be their first experience with breast cancer and after their surgery they will need to adapt slightly, whether it is wearing a prosthesis or changing the style of bra they now wear. This often opens up a whole new world of post-surgery fashion which they don’t know anything about.

What do you think needs to be done to improve this situation?

At Nicola Jane we do our very best to be a point of contact for women who have had surgery due to breast cancer, we have a catalogue designed specifically for hospitals and this is given to patients by Breast Care Nurses. In this catalogue we have a ‘Getting Started’ feature which offers an explanation of the different lingerie styles available, which lingerie styles might be suitable at different stages of treatment and different types surgery, as well as hints and tips from members of our Breast Care Fitting Team.

We also feature ‘Inspirational Women’ in our catalogues, these are Nicola Jane Customers who have been through a breast cancer diagnosis and breast surgery themselves, our Inspirational Women each tell their story and model various Nicola Jane styles. This is aimed to inspire women who have just had surgery that they too can feel confident and feminine after breast cancer.

These resources and information are also replicated on the Nicola Jane website and are available to women worldwide who seek advice and inspiration post-surgery.

Concretely, what product/s, service/s or action/s help those receiving medical treatment to feel/see themselves, and be seen by others, as “more than a patient; a person”?

At Nicola Jane we have customers who seek advice about post-surgery fashion at various stages of their treatment, both pre-surgery and post-surgery. When seeking advice by telephone our Customer Service Team ensure that they understand exactly what the customer is looking for, it is important to us that we are able to meet their post-surgery needs by understanding their situation and suggesting the correct style. All members of our Customer Service Team are trained to bra fit by telephone and offer expert advice on the various styles which we have available.

At Nicola Jane we also have 3 UK shops in London, Leeds and Chichester, this offers ladies the opportunity to move away from the clinical, patient-focussed environment they are used to. Each of our stores are decorated to provide a luxurious boutique feel allowing ladies to choose a piece of lingerie, prosthesis or swimwear as a consumer and no longer a patient. Every woman who walks into our shop is made to feel like a VIP, where possible they are seen on a one-to-one basis with a member of staff who will discuss how we can help to restore femininity post-surgery and find the right lingerie or swimwear style to help them with returning to their ‘normal’ everyday life.

What changes have you/your organisation made to ensure that those receiving medical treatment feel/see themselves, and are seen by others, as “more than a patient; a person”? And what impact have they had?

We ensure that our Customer Service Team are all fully-trained in our whole product range so that we are able to give the best possible advice. They also have a thorough understanding of the types of surgery people have and the issues ladies will face after surgery.  But it goes deeper than that too, our staff are all hugely kind and empathic, patient and reassuring. The impact of having amazing, expert fitters has a hugely positive effect on customers as we are best placed to help them see themselves as more than just a cancer patient but a beautiful woman!

If you would like to share your thoughts or experiences of the work that is being done to help people be seen as more than a patient; a person please do get in touch with us by sending us an email to

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