Flat Friends UK Trustee, Sarah began a year long fundraising campaign in aid of Flat Friends UK on 1st January 2020. Sarah, who is also the founder of fashion blog website Flatter Fashion, will be sharing a daily selfie of what she is wearing to raise awareness of day to day life living, and dressing, without two breasts after a mastectomy.
“During the past five years since my mastectomy I have never regretted my decision not to have reconstruction; bit the 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.
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.”
This is why Sarah will be sharing unfiltered photos of herself everyday for 365 days in her outfit of the day. Except her’s will be her ‘Outflat’ of the day!
You can read more, and sponsor Sarah to support our work here , and follow Sarah’s weekly blogs below…
This year long campaign hasn’t had the best start as I came down with a viral chest infection two days beforehand. I felt so rough I wondered whether undertaking a 365 day challenge was such a clever idea. I have previously dived into projects and regretted them later – wondering why I try and make life harder for myself. Brighton Marathon springs to mind!
Being poorly, and being at home mean one thing: cosy clothes. Which is why jumpers and knits are prominent this week. The main issue with this has been when my temperature has tipped over the 37.5*C mark. Having a fever now reminds me of the menopausal-style hot flushes I experienced several times a day when I was having Zoladex injections and taking Tamoxifen. When out of nowhere your body and face would ignite and you couldn’t get your jumper/scarf/duvet off quickly enough.
So, whilst decorative fairisle sweaters, and cosy cable knits are a quick, simple way to decorate flatness they also come with a warning for anyone prone to hot flushes. If this is you, go for knitwear in layers so they are easy to take off in a hurry; like a coatigan, cardigan, or infinity scarf. Try teaming them with a cotton top underneath that’s breathable and cool, and in a contrasting colour or pattern.
I have been slowly recovering from this horrible virus, although still not back to work. I have been less reliant on big jumpers to make me feel better, although I couldn’t resist the yellow check blanket scarf in the sale when I ventured to the supermarket for groceries!
Thursday 9th January saw my Five Year follow up appointment with my breast surgeon. She also gave me the good news that recent CT and Nuclear Bone scans showed no evidence of any metastases (when breast cancer cells have spread and develop in to tumours elsewhere in the body). I have been having pins and needles in my legs and feet; and having had a primary breast cancer diagnosis a headache or back ache that don’t go away after a few days are never just a headache or backache in my head. They can’t be ignored. As stressful as the past few weeks have been, it’s important to be aware of red flag signs and symptoms of secondary breast cancer (check out abcdiagnosis’ infographic) so they can be investigated promptly.
So, on Day 9 of 2020 I was discharged from further routine follow ups. The Primary Breast Cancer Years are over. I’ve come a long way, and am very much a changed person inside and out. I wonder if the tricky thing will be keeping what I have learned in mind the further away from my diagnosis I get. On Day 10 I dug out the navy floral scarf I bought just before my final chemo in June 2015. I was at a Younger Women Together event in Sheffield, and preparing for the interviews for the Step Up to Social Work course. I wore this as a head scarf for my first interview, but it was so hot that day I decided to go bald for the second stage a fortnight later. This scarf symbolises both the side effect of my treatment and the impetus from my diagnosis. It also brightens up a plain outfit and decorates my chest brilliantly!
After explaining to a breast care nurse that I did not want reconstruction back in January 2015, she told me that they would make sure they sent me home with some ‘softy’ breast forms to wear in a bra when I left hospital. It seemed a strange suggestion to me at the time – I didn’t want to put a bra on top of my wounds, and I had no plans to wear a bra ever again if I didn’t have to. I haven’t worn a bra since the morning of my mastectomy, not until this week when on the fifth anniversary of my double mastectomy I wore a post surgery bra from Asda, with Knitted Knockers.
Pre-mastectomy I was a DD cup but I didn’t want to try and recreate my previous body shape, I wanted to have an option to add a little shape to some outfits. So, I opted for A cup breast forms but they still feel ENORMOUS! I’ve got used to styling, and looking down at a flat chest so even small curves look out of place at the moment. I wore them again on Day 21 and felt that I spent less time worrying if they were sitting too high or looked too pert on their second outing.
Knitted Knockers are provide free of charge and come with extra stuffing and yarn so that you can adjust them if you wish – you can find more information here. I think I may try taking a little of the stuffing out to see if I feel less self conscious, and I will definitely wear them more often with certain items. The second time I wore them was with a top which is plain and hangs flat down the centre, but has ruffles down the side, up over the shoulder. I felt the ruffle softened the new curve on my chest, and also evened out any imbalance. Definitely a winning combination!
My face doesn’t appear in any of my #Outflat photos. This was a conscious decision for the first couple of weeks because I was feeling (and looking) so poorly. It was the same back in 2015 when I started my fashion blog, as my early posts were done while I was having chemo. The day before each round of chemo I would go and try on clothes, then in the days following I put together a new blog post. It was almost a year before I took changing room photos which included my face!
Flatter Fashion has never been about self promotion, it was to create a resource for the next woman facing a mastectomy without reconstruction. I didn’t want anyone else to wonder if they should undergo breast reconstruction, thinking that would be the only way they could wear a fitted top or bikini again.
#Outflat is about raising awareness and funds for Flat Friends UK – while sharing a glimpse into what it’s like to face the world every day without two breasts. So, I don’t think you need to see how I dress my hair or make up my face, just the different ways to dress flat. Not everything I wear may be to your taste or be something you think would suit you. But I am trying different styles and colours this year, like this week’s royal blue bubble hem blouse, so hopefully any woman looking at the pictures will see something she would try.