February 27, 2020

Efrat Roman’s Invention to Help Those Battling Breast Cancer

Efrat Roman

Israeli breast cancer survivor Efrat Roman has found a way to give back to those who are struggling with the disease with her new invention: the EZbra.

When Roman, 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, she faced a number of obstacles during her recovery period that she said only the EZbra could solve. The disposable bra absorbs 10 times its weight, offers patients customizable compression, can be taken on and off easily without assistance, and can be worn for 24 hours. With the bra, patients don’t have to constantly change their gauze and dressings post-surgery.

The Jewish Journal spoke with Roman about her breast cancer journey, and how she came to create the EZbra. 

Jewish Journal: How did you react to your breast cancer diagnosis?

Efrat Roman: I guess like anyone else does. With a mixture of fear, hope and anxiety. 

JJ: Does breast cancer run in your family?

ER: Yes. I am a BRCA1 gene mutation carrier. My grandma and all her sisters had breast and/or ovarian cancer and so did my mother. We were all diagnosed between the ages 38 to 42. 

JJ: Are you now breast cancer-free? 

ER: I really wish I were. Once diagnosed, you are always in remission.

JJ: Why did you decide to have a mastectomy? 

ER: Because I had three triple-negative aggressive tumors on one breast, it was clear it had to be removed. And since I am a gene mutation carrier and I was going through a very complicated divorce process at the same time, it was clear I needed to survive for my kids. Therefore, I had to do everything that would decrease the risk of the cancer recurring. 

JJ: How was the recovery period? 

ER: I had a double mastectomy with an immediate reconstruction with implants. I woke up covered with gauze and huge tape that created a severe allergy, so it was replaced with an ACE bandage that was wrapped around my torso. There was no chance I could replace it by myself and I needed my mom, a breast cancer survivor herself, to help me bathe and change dressings daily. 

I had two surgical drains coming out of my armpits and when I was asking what I am supposed to do with these bulbs just hanging there, I was offered to pin them to my clothes. When I was released from the hospital, I was told to wear a compression bra that cut through my skin. The bra got blood and ooze stains that could not be removed, so I constantly felt filthy and disgusted. 

JJ: Is that when you decided to invent EZbra? 

ER: I was certain that out there, somewhere in the world, there must be a post-op disposable bra, which is a dressing. It seemed so obvious to me, just like you’d expect to have a round dressing that is designed to meet the shape of the eye socket when you go to an ophthalmologist. So after searching everywhere for it and not finding it, I created a very simple prototype and went to have a patent search. Once I realized there was nothing like it, I understood it was my mission. 

JJ: What was the process for inventing it? 

ER: After creating the first simple prototype, I met Yael, who is EZbra’s CTO (chief technology officer) and developer. For a few years, we were trying all kinds of designs, searching for the right materials, researching technologies, [and] interviewing hundreds of survivors, surgeons, nurses and wound care experts. [We were] creating prototypes and then trialing them with all these professionals and patients, going back for adjustments and finally, coming up with the device that meets all the post-op requirements of patients and physicians. 

JJ: How many have you sold? Are you selling them online, in stores and at hospitals?

ER: As we are just making our first steps into the market, we just started online sales at our website at ezbra.net. Soon we will start working with distributors that will get it into hospitals, private practices and post-surgical supplies stores. 

JJ: What kind of feedback have you received from customers?

ER: Unbelievable! It is like they have heard my pitch. Women are praising the exact features I was insisting they should have. They love the sterility, the ease of application, the disposable dressing that can just go into the trash and be replaced with a fresh and hygienic one, the independence it gives them to do it on their own and the dignity it allows them through recovery. I am crying on a weekly basis from reading and hearing the patients’ feedback. 

JJ: What do you hope people get out of using EZbra?

ER: I hope EZbra will give the women using it some dignity and control over their lives at this very sensitive and challenging phase. I hope it will make them feel more feminine and whole and allow them some independent time to process and make acquaintance with their new bodies. I hope it will make this traumatic journey a bit more sensible and respectful.