Pam Vincent has been in the bra business for 21 years but it’s more than just bra’s and lace lingerie at Luv Lingerie & Boutique in Bridge City.  Vincent is the leading certified specialist in bra and breast prosthetic fitting in the Golden Triangle and is registered with the American Cancer Society (ACS). She carries bra sizes from 30AA to 54N

“Women are bad about not listening to their body,” Vincent said.  “They are good about taking care of husbands and children, but they are not good at taking care of themselves.
There is no reason, whatsoever, for a woman to lose her life over a breast. I can fix it.  I can put one right on you.  You’ll be one happy little camper because I can come within a 16th of an inch of getting you fitted and you can not tell at all.”

“First time customers have hard time coming in,” she said. “They lose it and I stay on an emotional roller-coaster. They don’t want me to see them but they know they have to do something.  You’ve got to get to that point because I am all up in your business. I have compassion for them. These women need someone to help them and that’s what I am all about.”

It takes 45 minutes for a good fitting and if a woman does not feel comfortable leaving the house, Vincent will go to her house and measure her for a bra and prosthesis.

“Most women are referred to Reach to Recovery,” Vincent said.  Reach to Recovery was started 40 years ago by the ACS to help those who are fighting breast cancer and those who have fought it and survived.  Some women are not comfortable speaking out their experience with breast cancer, “but one little thing that someone else said could put them in the fighting mode,” Vincent said.  “If you don’t have a strong willpower, it will bring you down.”

Hellen Walles, a breast cancer survivor from Bridge City said, “It will bring you down.  I had a good husband who understood.  He never put me down.  It was like he loved me more.”

“90 percent of the doctors do not give them good referrals, they don’t tell them where to go or get them going in the right direction,” she said. Vincent is trying to get in contact with as many doctor’s offices in the area to let them know what she does for breast cancer survivors. 

In the last month, she has helped 17 customers with breast prosthesis.   She carries Amonea, Jodee, Nearly Me, Natural Wear, Anita, Trulife-Camp. She only offers the light-weight, whipped silicone breast form.

Medicare covers 80 percent of the cost and will only allow the prosthesis to be replaced once every two years and only allows up to six bras a year. If the prosthesis is taken care of appropriately, it could last up to three years. 

The bras last a long time, but the bra breaks down faster than regular bras would due to the putting in and taking out of the prosthesis.

Because Medicare is only covering 80 percent of the costs, Vincent takes care of the leftover costs for each prosthesis customer.  “I just can’t put the full cost on the customer,” she said. “It’s just not right. I would rather not make any [profit] off of it and send you out the door feeling like a full woman. This is not where I make my money and it’s okay,” Vincent stated.

Prosthesis and bras are donated by ACS for those who do not have insurance.  Women who are taught properly can use a regular bra and sew pockets in to hold the prosthesis.  “I actually encourage that because insurance won’t pay,” Vincent said.

“If I can’t find something she needs, I will keep on until I find it,” she said.

“Pam was the only one who I would let touch me [after the surgery],” Walles said. She has been coming to see Vincent for many years. 

Even though Vincent lost everything in the shop due to Hurricane Ike, she came back and is busier than ever. She has 19 more customers waiting to be fitted for a prosthetic before the end of the year. It is an unfortunate reason to go to Luv Lingerie, but now these women have somewhere to go to feel even more like a woman.

Vincent is in the process of having a three-quarter sleeved shirt that will have a bra, the breast cancer awareness ribbon and the word “support.” She will sell these shirts in her store and all proceeds will go the American Cancer Society and the Julie Rogers Foundation. These shirts should be ready in the next two weeks.

Vincent is also a Scentsy distributor and will be drawing for a breast cancer awareness warmer. 

Stop by Luv Lingerie & Boutique at 215 Texas Ave, Bridge City, Texas 77611; or call Pam Vincent at 409-735-2930 for any questions.

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers