In 2013, Kristen Carbone, of Providence, Rhode Island, had a preventative mastectomy to help protect herself against breast cancer after her mother died of the disease in her 40s. She wasn’t expecting some of the side effects though, including a continuous cold sensation due to her breast implants blocking the warmth of her body heat from getting to the tissues over top of the implant.
“I was totally unprepared for what it would feel like to live in my body after having a preventive mastectomy,” she says.
Some people would have just dealt with these issues and learned to live with them, but Kristen, now 39, decided to go to work creating a solution, not just for herself, but for everyone else experiencing similar problems.
“I was constantly bothered by my chest always feeling cold,” she says. “And once I learned how many other women were suffering with this same issue, I wanted to do something about it.”
She founded Brilliantly, a company meant to help women transition from breast cancer treatment to life as a survivor. Under that company name, she invented a wearable warming device called Brilliantly Warm to be placed in the bra to help keep the outer layers of tissue warm.
“In my early conversations with women in the breast cancer community, I was struck by how many of them were dealing with common, quality-of-life issues even years after surgery and treatment,” she says. Her website and her product both aim to address these concerns.
The device can be controlled using an app, so no one will need to go digging in their bra to turn off the device or make adjustments to the heat controls. Simply select
a setting in the app, and the rechargeable device will gradually warm to the selected temperature. When worn properly, it’s almost invisible, so it can easily be used at work and in other public settings.
Warming “sessions” are spread out over time so that the user doesn’t get more than 10 to 20 minutes per hour but still maintains a comfortable skin temperature. A built-in thermometer also ensures the device never surpasses 107 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent burns. This is especially important for women who lack sensation in certain areas of their skin following a mastectomy due to nerve damage.
After almost four years of research and development, Kristen finally released Brilliantly Warm to the public. Her inspiration through all the trials it took to get here has always been her mother.
“I’ve been dedicated to building a product that embodied my mother’s essence: beautiful, smart, authentic, no bullshit, and — above all — warm,” reads her website.
Brilliantly warm was designed for breast cancer patients but can be used by anyone who wears a bra. Since its invention, the product has served breast cancer patients, nursing moms, and people with chronic conditions that cause them to feel cold.
“If my superpower is listening to women tell me their stories, I knew I could help by creating a product to make their life better and building a website that I knew would help connect them to each other.”
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