Skarlette Swimwear & Our New Skarlette Ambassador27 February 23
Meet Sue, she’s fought breast cancer twice. Sue opted for Flat Closure having researched her options, and she has recently joined the Skarlette Family as an ambassador…Hear what she has to say about our new swimwear.
“Neither of my breast cancer diagnoses came out of screenings, that’s why I’m so passionate that we need to know our bodies well and do something when we feel things might not be quite right.
First, I had an innocuous little lump that I got checked out, in a whirlwind week, I’d been to the GP, had a needle biopsy and lumpectomy with all lymph nodes removed. Such was the speed of things 25 years ago, I was glad to have little time to do other than “get on with it”, returning to work part time through my radiotherapy. The worst aspect was probably dealing with the effects of Tamoxifen.
Life gradually returned to normal. Twenty-four years after (Grade 2, Stage 2, hormone +, HER2 -) breast cancer, I thought I was home and dry. But life finds ways to throw unexpected challenges at us so, just when I was coming to terms with the prospect of losing my beautiful dad, cancer decided to rear its ugly head again, even though I initially tried to convince myself that there are tissue changes following menopause!
Anyhow, denial protected me for about a month but there was no mistaking the need to go to the doctor, especially once I accepted that my nipple and skin were changing as well as the breast tissue feeling pretty lumpy. The diagnosis I’d expected followed swiftly – recurrence of hormone receptive breast cancer, along with new tumour types. I set off on another rollercoaster ride, feeling that I could deal with this quickly again and get on with my life.
It’s not been quite that simple as everything seems to take so long now and there seems to be a prevalent assumption in the medical profession that you’ll want to maintain shape whether that’s through lumpectomy or reconstruction. Even so, being clear about comfort with my own body image (plus the family cancer history) helped simplify my route to a double mastectomy and my surgery recovery was swift.
The gruelling chemo that followed has been a different story but it’s since turned out that my white and red blood cells were only just in range before surgery, so the challenges I’ve had with infections are no great surprise in hindsight. Even so, it’s behind me now and I’ll start on Anastrozole and Bisphosphonates in a few weeks, fingers crossed that side effects will be minimal: Bottom line is that I’m focussed on having at least 20 more good years: I’m nowhere near done with life yet!
I’ve had nothing but excellent care from the fabulous oncology team at Derby hospital and they’ve tolerated various mad moments when I’ve told them things like “there wouldn’t be anything wrong with me if you’d stopped poisoning me” … well it’s true that laughter is the best medicine after all.
Here I am nine months after confirmed diagnosis, post-chemo and without the two breasts that (to put it slightly bluntly) tried to kill me twice and weren’t going to get a third chance. I’ve already been topless by the pool on holiday and I’m looking forward to getting a fabulous tattoo this summer. It’ll have an aquatic theme to it and be a real celebration of moving forward again with adventures and showing others that women are only defined by shape if they wish to be.
Swimming’s always been a part of my life. It’s not only a great way to keep fit but since I’ve become an open water swimmer, it’s introduced me to many brave people, in the same way that being flat and happy has led me to being connected to many other flat pinkies across both the UK and in other countries.
Being a realist and optimist, I felt immediately that double mastectomy was the answer for me and, having looked at what were all the feasible reconstructions options, I found staying flat was my only straightforward option. I decided that I’d rather be flat and get my life back than go through the torment my cousin’s wife and so many others have suffered due to implant complications.
After all, there’s so much more to being female or feminine than a pair of breasts. Like many flatties, I feel really liberated and often laugh at the thought that “it’s like being 11 again”! Prostheses and fake boobs hold no appeal for me but wearing lovely underwear does so, I’ve scrolled past many a Facebook post referencing post-mastectomy bras until Skarlette stopped me in my tracks just as I was thinking I’d get my sewing machine out again and make a few lovely camisoles.
In the same way that swimming in cold water with like-minded crazies gives me a real buzz, wearing beautifully made underwear, designed with flatties in mind is just simply lovely. Skarlette totally ticks this box for me, I’ve not purchased any other post-mastectomy underwear and am so excited about the forthcoming swimwear range.
I can imagine that wearing Skarlette swimwear will feel like a real celebration of having dealt bravely with all that this latest rollercoaster has thrown at me and being a Skarlette Ambassador will give me the opportunity to encourage other flatties to be confident about their ‘changed body’ … if it helps someone feel even a little bit like that 11-year-old again, then even better!
Living my best day every day, even when that’s just low key, is what’s important, that includes supporting others who might need an understanding ear just to listen. New avenues with other flatties may open up too as I’ve just taken on a role in a Flat Friends Facebook group as a local coordinator.”