‘First Bra’ aims to lift spirits of breast cancer survivors

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A pretty bra could lift the spirits of a woman who's had breast cancer, and especially when the bra and fitting are free.  A new non-profit organization in the metro is offering that to survivors.

You wouldn't have found Carrie Brzon in a lingerie store five years ago.  She was fighting breast cancer, undergoing a bilateral mastectomy and starting reconstruction.  Shortly after getting the permanent implants, she began having problems with them.

"Within three weeks after that, everything just started to fall apart,  and my body just rejected the implants," said Brzon.

She needed 11 surgeries in one year.

"You feel like your body's betrayed you, and you have a whole range of emotions," said Brzon.

Five years later, joy was what Brzon felt when she picked out a new bra at Clair De Lune in Overland Park.  It was free along with the fitting, provided by the new foundation called First Bra.

Owner Terry Levine started the non-profit organization after seeing it could be traumatic for women to shop for bras after a lumpectomy or mastectomy.

"Her body has now changed and she has no idea what size she is.  Many times, her doctor doesn't give her good directions on what she should get," said Levine.

She says some women just wear a sports bra for years.  That's why the foundation will provide one free bra to survivors no matter whether it's been two months or twenty years.  Women can apply at http://www.firstbra.org

They can pick a post-surgery bra or something fancy.

"There's so many things they have to worry about that getting a bra shouldn't be one of them," Levine said.

Brzon is grateful.

"I hadn't had a good-fitting bra until I came in for the fitting and I was just overwhelmed with joy really," she said.

First Bra intends to lift spirits and support survivors.

First Bra is for women in the Kansas City area or in the St. Louis area where Levine also has a store.  She hopes that other boutiques around the country will become involved in First Bra.