For breast cancer survivor Simonne Cormier, her road to recovery led to an innovative idea that would have a lasting impact.
Diagnosed suddenly in 2016, she faced two significant challenges relating to her post-treatment circumstance: finding a breast prothesis made from natural materials and finding an appropriate means of attaching and securing the prothesis.
“After having had surgery, chemo and radiation, it was recommended to find a breast prosthesis that was made from all-natural materials, as your sensitive skin is breathing whatever material it is in contact with,” she said. “I searched specialty stores far and wide across Canada and the online marketplace. Unfortunately for me and any other patients, that product did not exist.”
That is, until now. In 2019, Simonne founded Au Naturel Solutions, a company specializing in the manufacturing of an all-natural breast prosthesis with an attachment system. In contrast to the existing synthetic polyester or silicone options, Au Naturel’s product is made from animal and plant-based fibers.
“Part of the problem with existing products, was the need to constantly adjust and re-adjust throughout the day. With the innovative attaching system, the prosthesis remains securely in place and the prosthesis itself can be adapted to fit the negative space from surgery, making it easier to align the shape and size of the other breast.”
Au Naturel Solutions is the latest company to join Emergence, Canada’s Bioscience Business Incubator run by the PEI BioAlliance, and serving 58 client companies in the Atlantic Region and across Canada. Simonne also received a $25,000 grant in 2019 from Innovation PEI’s Ignition Fund and is an active member of the Startup Zone.
“Emergence is working with Simonne to put the product into full production in 2021 and to develop a sales and marketing plan to make the product available across Canada, and wherever there is a need,” said Mark Redmond, Director, Incubation Services for Emergence.
Simonne’s innovative product includes a prosthesis comprised of a molded breast form with fiber fill to be placed within a bra cup to correct asymmetry, as well as an innovative system to keep the prosthesis securely in place. The all-natural materials were selected for their hypoallergenic and biodegradable properties, breathability, moisture wicking and durability.
“I chose this route to give others the option of an all-natural alternative, if that’s what they want. This exercise is about making people feel good, being comfortable and building confidence in themselves.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to education and making a difference in the lives of those affected by the disease. With more than 26,000 Canadians diagnosed every year, it is the most common form of cancer.
“Imagine going through surgery, not knowing to what extent the removal of tissue will be. This happens to many individuals undergoing surgery following a breast cancer diagnosis. I want to give back to that community and aid in the healing of individuals who need a prosthesis for whatever reason.”
For more information on Au Naturel Solutions, contact Simonne at firstname.lastname@example.org.