I had a mastectomy five years ago in January 2015 when I was 35 years old. I had been diagnosed with invasive primary breast cancer a month earlier, the week before Christmas. I knew that I did not want to have breast reconstruction, but my breast care team were concerned. They told me I was in shock, that I would be ‘very flat’, and I wouldn’t be able to find ‘nice clothes’. I started my clothing blog Flatter Fashion two weeks after my mastectomy.
It started out as a fact-finding project; a way of documenting the things I learned about dressing my new body shape. In the beginning I knew no one else living without reconstruction so was sure I was just talking to myself. Five years later, it’s a space for members of Flat Friends UK’s Facebook support group to share their tips and advice; and I hope it encourages women who are living without reconstruction after a single or double mastectomy that they can find clothes that suit them and help them feel confident.
During the past five years I have never regretted my decision not to have reconstruction; but that doesn’t mean I don’t have days when I feel self-conscious. The days when it feels like nothing looks right on me; when it feels like everyone must be looking at me, trying to work out what’s missing.
Everyone has days like this, whether it’s a bad hair day; not having anything that fits properly, or waking up with a spot. But every day can feel like this when you have had a life saving operation or treatment that leaves your body altered.
But I don’t think you can tell that from my blog. In an online world where we are encouraged to share only our best moments – the enviable events, the picturesque location, the perfect outfit – I have often fallen into this trap. So, I have decided in 2020 I am going to share an unfiltered snapshot of me everyday in my outfit of the day #ootd. Except mine will be my ‘outflat’ outfit!
I work full-time so I don’t have the option of staying at home when I wish I had never had breast cancer. I have to face the world no matter how thin I think my hair looks, no matter how obvious I think my lack of two breasts is. There is also no budget for frequent wardrobe changes, so expect lots of slow fashion, and mixing and matching – rather than brand new outfits every day!
I hope by sharing 365 days of my life without two breasts, others who are feeling self conscious will know that they are not the only one.
By supporting my Outflat campaign you will be supporting the work of Flat Friends UK. A charity which is dedicated to supporting women who have had mastectomy surgery without breast reconstruction, including those who may face such decisions now or in the future. I am very proud to be a trustee of Flat Friends UK: we believe living without reconstruction is a positive outcome. Flat Friends UK provides safe, respectful, supportive spaces for women to come together and talk about practical and emotional matters related to living flat, including clothing, cancer treatment and relationships in everyday life.
You can donate online at Virgin Moneygiving