Welcome to Flatter Fashion, a blog I started after having a double mastectomy without reconstruction, about finding clothes which suit a body shape chosen by lots of women who have had a mastectomy: Flat!
When my surgeon gave me my diagnosis of Grade 3 invasive breast cancer she went through my treatment options:
*a lumpectomy, which would involve removing most of my right breast including the nipple, or
*a single mastectomy.
I asked for a bilateral mastectomy with no reconstruction; I wanted to be healthy as soon as possible, I needed to know that if the cancer came back that I would be able to spot it and I wanted to be symmetrically flat.
There was an assumption that as a young woman (I was 35) I would want reconstruction; I didn’t, but it became a recurring theme of my appointments…
“Are you sure you don’t want implants?” “We can offer implants to make you bigger” “Take some time to think about it” “You will be very flat”.
I don’t imagine women who choose reconstruction have their decision questioned so thoroughly. Yet, a patient saying that they did not want any type of breast form seemed to be a first for my Breast Care team; even as I was being discharged the day after my surgery with my cancer-free flat chest I was offered comfies “to wear in a bra while the wounds are healing”.
But the comment that laid the foundation for this blog was,
“You’ll find it hard to find nice clothes.”
My view is that:
Your chest does not define your identity
Loss of your breast form does not mean you have to lose your personal style
Your favourite brands can still meet your retail therapy needs!
We just need to learn how to shop for our new shape, and unfortunately there is not much information to help you get started. I was given four brochures when I was discharged without implants or comfies:
– ‘Breast prostheses, bras and clothes after surgery’ by Breast Cancer Care, which contains four sentences on what to wear if you choose not to have implants or wear prostheses. This has since been updated, but in 2015 it suggested I ‘disguise’ my chest baggy tops and scarves!
– Nicola Jane Mastectomy Fashion Collection, which only offers lingerie and swimwear for women who want tops and bras with pocketed cups.
– Amoena Collection, a range of lingerie, swimwear and clothing which all come with pocketed cups or built in bras.
– Silima Breastcare and Fashion, lingerie for use with breast prosthesis.
Flat Friends UK (Charity No: 1168739) has now produced its own patient information booklet which includes my tips on finding clothes that suit you post-mastectomy. Please ask your Breast Care team for a copy ‘Flat Friends Living without reconstruction’ booklet.
For the first three months after my mastectomy I felt like I must be the only one, then I received a message from a woman named Gilly who asked if I wanted to join the Facebook groups she had started. This was to become Flat Friends. When I joined in April 2015 there were less than 50 members; now there are 1000. All of us women in the UK living without reconstruction after mastectomy, or facing that decision. In 2016 I became one of the immensely proud trustees of the newly registered Flat Friends UK Charity. For more information please visit www.flatfriends.org.uk
Thanks to Gilly for finding me, and all of my Flat Friends who inspire this blog.