says Johnson. The triangle-shaped breast was hard and
uncomfortable, and it didn’t
match her natural breast. She
was unable to find a bra that fit,
as bras sold by retail stores are
not designed to accommodate
uneven breasts. Her only option
was a custom-fit bra that cost
a couple of hundred dollars.
Johnson not only taught the
woman to sew her own bras, but
showed her how to make her
own prosthesis out of foam and
plastic pellets—one that was a
closer match to her natural
breast. The prosthesis cost less
than $10 to make, looked far
more natural and was more comfortable than the $400 prosthesis
from the medical supply store.
Johnson has worked with
close to 1,000 breast cancer survivors
and says the emotion involved in being
able to make a bra that fits is palpable.
“Some of them cry, they’re so touched,”
she says.—Lisa Evans
Beverly Johnson (right) with
participant Vera Ussyk, at a bra-making workshop in Saskatchewan.
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IN 17 YEARS, Costco member Barbara
Jo Kirshbaum, 76, of Upland, California,
has raised $1.66 million for breast cancer by participating in more than 140
walks totaling 6,800 miles. Hers is an
inspirational story as we enter October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
“When I started this, it really
was about challenging my 60-year-
old body,” says Kirshbaum, who
first participated in a three-day,
Since then, walking for
breast cancer has become her
passionate, long-term com-
mitment, with her family’s
support. Besides having her
children and grandchildren
participate in walks with her,
Before he died in 2010, her husband,
Robert, would accompany her to every walk
and hang little pink motivational signs along
the route to inspire her. The day he was diag-
nosed with stage 4 esophageal gastric cancer
he made a request to his wife: to keep walking
and raising money in hopes that their efforts
will help with other cancers.
“I continue to honor his memory with
every step I walk and every dollar I raise,” says
Kirshbaum, who participates in multiple
walks throughout the year.
In 2008, when Kirshbaum hit her 100th
walk and $1 million raised, the Avon
WALK) donated $250,000 in her name to the
Women’s Breast and Imaging Center at San
Antonio Community Hospital in Upland.
Kirshbaum has now set her sights on a
new goal: $2 million (
n se n s e
w th s
uo i r
c r na d
p t lk
EVERY WOMAN KNOWS a new bra gives a
boost not only to the girls, but to self-esteem and sensuality. But for breast cancer survivors who have had a mastectomy,
making their own bras is often the first
time they’ve felt comfortable with their
breasts since their surgeries.
Costco member Beverly Johnson,
owner of Bra-makers Supply (
makerssupply.com), a Hamilton, Ontario,
sewing supply store, has been teaching
women to make their own bras since 2007.
Johnson, a former high school home
economics teacher, recalls a woman from
California who attended her weeklong
bra- and undergarment-making camp.
“She wore a prosthesis and she hated it,”
In our digital editions
Click here for more information
on Avon Foundation walks.
(See page 12 for details.)
A comfortable fit