From a very young age, Elizabeth Chabner Thompson learned what it means to be a strong woman. She was surrounded by them.
All three of the influential forces in her life were touched by breast cancer. “My mother was diagnosed at age 49,” said the Masthead CEO and Founder, “and my grandmother and my great-grandmother also had bilateral breast cancer.”
What makes her story unique is that Thompson, a graduate of Yale and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, followed in her father’s footsteps in the field of Oncology. She felt a calling to help women navigate their treatment process.
But in 2006, it was time for her to embark on her own journey.
“I was working as a radiation oncologist, I was also raising four children, my youngest being two, and I had a family history that was worrisome. I met with a genetic counselor, and my risk was high enough to consiser preventative measures.”
Chabner Thompson had a hard time sleeping at night, worrying about her four young children. “I would think to myself ‘If I get sick, if I have to have chemo, if I have to go daily for radiation, what am I going to do with my family? And how am I going to manage that?’ I was not a gambler.”
So she had a bilateral mastectomy with direct-to-implant surgery.
“I woke up after this really sophisticated surgical procedure. I was itchy, and I looked down and couldn’t figure out what I was wearing. It was an old scratchy white cotton bra that must have been designed in 1970 for procedures that were done back then.”
So much of her own experience played a role in the next chapter of her life. “I went to work for the plastic surgeons that operated on me to help their next 500 patients get through the process. That’s how I ended up designing the bra.”
“The bra” is the Masthead Elizabeth Pink Surgical Bra® that is now used by hospitals all over the country to help patients get through the healing process. It’s made of an ultra-soft, supportive performance fabric, and has five adjustable points of Velcro that help with swelling, comfort and support. It also has rings to hold the drains that are commonly used by doctors.
Chabner Thompson says the bra is empowering. It enables patients to take care of themselves, and helps families have one less thing to worry about getting at the time of surgery.
Since launching the Elizabeth Pink Surgical Bra, Masthead has created a growing line of products designed to help women during recovery and beyond.
In the ten years since shipping her first bra, Chabner Thompson continues to work toward her goal of helping as many women as possible.
“When I was a radiation oncologist seeing patients, I could help maybe 30 people in a day. What gives me enormous satisfaction in my job now is that I can help hundreds, sometimes thousands, of women in a day.”