Since my mastectomy in June, I haven’t had to “dress for success” all that often. At first I lived in pyjammas and loose clothing that had internal pockets to hold my drainage tubes. Then I moved onto yoga pants and loose fitting tops and finally graduated to jeans and sweaters. Now that I am doing more time at the office and going to meetings and some social events, I am struggling with what to wear. Not only do I not “feel” like my old self…I definitely do not “look” like my old self. I have gone through my closet a dozen times trying to put outfits together that fit and I feel comfortable in. I am very self conscious of anything that is form fitting as my upper half is still wonky. My reconstructed foobs ( fake boobs) are lopsided and I have considerable swelling under my arms. Actually the bulges under my arms are bigger than my foobs. If only they could shift all that swelling/flesh around to the front, I would have a much better looking chest.
Any top or dress that I owned that has any kind of “V” that might show even a hint of cleavage is totally out of the question, as one, I don’t have much cleavage and two my scars go right across my chest so they are very visible and extremely unattractive. I don’t want to call any attention to my chest but I also don’t want to wear shapeless tent-like tops and dresses either. I have a shape…its just not one I am comfortable with. Then there’s the “under-garments”. I am supposed to wear a sports bra, 24/7 for several months. This is not only tiresome and uncomfortable but also limits what kind of neckline and “fit” you can wear. A fit that doesn’t show the thick straps and high, binding coverage of a sports bra . There’s no point trying to be measured for a proper bra yet until I have the next two surgeries. So until then, there is nothing frilly or feminine that I can wear. I try to add some flair and pizzazz to things with cool necklaces and yes…scarves, but I always feel like I am trying to hide something, which of course, I am!
I love clothes. I love fashion and I love feeling good when I get dressed. I certainly don’t have the budget to buy a whole new wardrobe. Let’s face it, there hasn’t been a lot of money coming in while I’ve been recouping…and I’m not sure what the “final” result will be after I complete all the reconstruction. I sound like a “reno” project…a poor old house that has lost its “curb appeal” and needs a complete overhaul. Yup, definitely need more than just a lick of paint to increase my value!
I am going to have to focus on “sprucing” myself up in ways that won’t break the bank and will last through the next several months of upcoming reconstructive work. I cut my hair shorter a few months ago as a bit of a “lift”…I could revisit that. I could try a new makeup look, although I don’t really wear a lot of makeup. I could try experimenting with new colour pallets to see if that would brighten up how I feel and then there is of course SHOES! I love shoes. Right ladies? The perfect shoe can make or break your outfit. And…since my feet have remained the same size since my early twenties, I am pretty much guaranteed that any purchase will suit me for many years to come.
Of all the articles and books and blogs I have read that deal with “what to expect after a bilateral mastectomy”, nothing really talks about things as simple as getting dressed in order to look and feel good again. The fashion world and the media that serves it, puts a lot of pressure on us to have the right body shape, size and weight. Most of us have felt that pressure at one time or another…especially we girls. It’s hard enough trying not to compare yourself to how models and celebrities look in magazines, on tv and in movies. But try comprehending how it is to not only fight the fact that you are not a size 4 but you’ve also had your breasts amputated. Can you understand my struggle? If you want to “get it” try walking a mile in my shoes. It won’t be easy, but at least you know that those shoes will look fabulous!
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.