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 is 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 continue to follow Sarah’s weekly blogs below…
I don’t have many of the first clothes I bought after my mastectomy. When trying on dozens of clothes every couple of weeks it was very tempting to buy everything that suited me: post-mastectomy panic buying. I was trying to prove to myself that I could continue to dress like me even without my breasts. So, I accumulated many tops and dresses, many of which probably weren’t to my taste, simply because they fitted and hung well.
Here is how I describe learning to dress for your new body shape in Flat Friends UK’s patient booklet ‘Living Positively Without Reconstruction’ (available from all good breast care units…and as a digital download here):
You have spent most of your life a certain shape. As a teenager, you began experimenting with clothes; finding styles that suited you, following trends, and reflecting your personality through what you wore. Now you suddenly have fewer breasts, and possibly a new outlook on life. You are faced with a wardrobe of clothes accumulated over many seasons, even years, which no longer feel like they belong to you.
Shopping for a single or double flat chest is not that difficult; but, it is daunting to suddenly not know who you are, or what to wear.
Most of the clothes I bought in 2015 have long gone to the charity shop. One exception is the grey twist front top I wore this week. It’s easy to wear; hasn’t gone out of fashion, and is still very ‘me’.
I don’t have a uniform for work. My work wardrobe could best be described as smart casual. I need to look somewhere between professional and approachable. I work in a hospital, so easy laundry is also important! My key item is a pair (ok, a few pairs) of black jeans; which I dress up with shirts and blouses. I also love a dungaree or pinafore dress, which I layer with tops and jumpers. I feel comfortable at work in either of these combinations.
This week I wore a floral blouse with a cord pinafore dress to work. Layering bold prints and bright colours work well on single and double flat chests as it creates depth and shape. My friend (who I also work with) was wearing black top and trousers with smart mustard cardigan and printed scarf. She looked like management material; I looked like I was on a day off in comparison!
The next day I upped my wardrobe game and went for a ruffle blouse. I can get caught up in wondering, and sometimes worrying, what my flatness looks like. It’s nice to have days when what I’m wearing is about something else.
On Day 44 I woke up with six insect bites down the centre of my forehead. Who knew there were gnats in February?! By the end of the day the six small bites had turned into one long, pink lump. On Day 45 I went to work looking like a Klingon.
I knew my Belisha beacon was unmissable – I don’t have a fringe, and I didn’t dare put any make up on it. So, I had no choice but to go to work and get ready for everyone to stare, ask me what I’d done, and offer advice on how to get rid of spots. What actually happened was nothing! No one mentioned it, but I did become aware that people were paying very close attention to my eyes.
Or maybe I was imagining my colleagues purposely not looking above my eyebrows. In the end I introduced the elephant in the room during every conversation, so the other person knew they could look. So, I felt less self-conscious about what it looked like to others. Now, not that I would liken my chest to an inflamed, infected lump on my face but there are days I feel like people are trying not to look at my chest. Quietly wondering why I look the way I do, but not wishing to seem impolite by asking. I feel torn between wanting to explain that I’ve had breast cancer and wanting to go about my day unnoticed. But I wonder if the latter won’t happen without the former.
Flat Friends UK’s posted this week what ‘Flat’ can mean.
We use ‘flat’ to describe ourselves whether we:
* are living with one breast
* are living with no breasts
* are waiting for delayed reconstruction
* don’t want reconstruction
* are undecided about reconstruction
* wear prostheses
* don’t wear prostheses
* want Contralateral Prophylactic Mastectomy (CPM) – the removal of an unaffected breast.
* don’t want CPM
There is no single story. It’s good to remember that our own personal reasons and experiences are unique. Peer support is invaluable, and enriched each time a new voice is heard.
Here is mine:
Breasts – None since 2015
Reconstruction – I knew I didn’t want recon as soon as my surgeon told me I needed a mastectomy.
Prostheses – I didn’t wear any type of breast forms for the first five years post-mastectomy. I now have a pair of Knitted Knockers which I wear when I am in the mood.
CPM – I asked for CPM straight away. My surgeon and nurses thought I was only asking to have my unaffected breast removed because I was in shock! I am really pleased I followed my gut instinct, and that my surgeon supported my decision in the end.