Sometimes I fret that Chemo Chic is not covering all the issues from every angle. Cancer is a diverse disease. The type, grade and stage of your tumour will dictate the treatments and choices available to you. I have realised that I can only write from my own perspective. What I love is raising discussions. If you have anything at all to say about any of the things that appear here I encourage you to use the comments sections to get stuck in or better still, write your own article.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was given a choice. I chose not to have a mastectomy. Instead I opted for a wide local excision or quadrantectomy with latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction. I had to weigh it up. A mastectomy would have meant losing my breast completely. Having no breast means there is no chance of the tumour returning in that breast. The quadrantectomy meant that I got to keep most of my breast and not have a silicone implant in my body. But now I will have to be monitored forevermore.
As it has turned out I’ve developed an ongoing seroma in my back as a result of the LD flap reconstruction. It is unusual and could not have been foreseen. As far as I understand, any surgery may give rise to complications. I feel content with my decision.
And that’s my point. With the advice of our consultants and the experience of others we reach a decision that we can personally live with. Some women have to have a mastectomy because of the size of their tumour. Some women choose a mastectomy, or even a double mastectomy because they just want to totally minimise the chance of the tumour recurring. Some women are advised against immediate reconstruction. Some choose never to have reconstructive surgery. We’re all different.
In recent months I have noticed that my right breast is now much smaller than the left (reconstructed) one. I broach the subject with Mr Hadjiminas. “Can’t you do anything to match this breast up with the other one?” Just in case you were wondering, I’m suggesting that maybe he could make the small breast bigger, not the other way around.
“What? No! It’s because you’ve lost so much weight. Eat more.”
I already eat for England yet the kilos just fall away.
I can’t help feeling self-conscious about my odd breasts but under clothes it doesn’t really show. The same cannot be said for women who have had a mastectomy without reconstruction. For those women a substantially new wardrobe may be required.
From time to time I have looked at lingerie and clothing ranges designed specifically for those experiencing what is kindly termed ‘breast asymmetry’. With a few notable exceptions I think I can safely say that most of it falls into the category of “you wouldn’t wear it if you weren’t experiencing breast asymmetry”.
But today I discovered an American clothing line called Chikara. Don’t ask me what Chikara means. Designed specifically with ‘breast asymmetry’ in mind, the Chikara range uses clever ruffles, knots and layering to disguise the unevenness of one’s boobs. The clothes are stylish: simple and sculptural. I think any woman would love to wear them.
p.s. Here’s some pretty good mastectomy swimwear…
Nicola Jane 50’s retro swimsuit
Nicola Jane bandeau bikini
Nicola Jane psychedelic one-piece
Woman Zone halter-neck bikini
Woman Zone cut-away one piece
Woman Zone panelled swimsuit
Knitted breasts and other mad stuff on Etsy
Please share your top cancer fashion tips with us.