Feeling challenged by clothes shopping?
I'd like to reach out to other women who find
it hard to buy clothes because of changes to their bodies brought
about by breast cancer. I'm almost 60 now and have lived with a mastectomy for
over 20 years, with a handful of those years as a younger woman dressing around
a reconstruction that I had removed back in 2006. I have felt quite
frustrated over this entire period with how hard it has been to find clothes
with high necklines that don't gape and that also disguise the imbalance I have
in my breast shape and nipple outline. I've never regretted having the
mastectomy - but have been really surprised at how down I would get with
clothes shopping, for I consider myself to be a fairly strong and resilient
person. Over a decade ago now I surveyed 423 affected Australian women about difficulties they experience - and realised some of us live with quite a significant and silent problem.
About two years ago I approached the fashion
industry to see what could be done for us generally, after struggling for months
to find an outfit for my daughter's wedding. I met with some very supportive
retailers and from there sourced a web developer to build a fashion site
tailored to our needs. It includes a filter that enables browsing by selecting for a whole range of design features that women after breast cancer seem to look for but struggle to find - e.g. loose sleeves for lymphoedema management, high necklines and disguising patterns to name a few. The site is called Pink Collective Styling and it's
listed within the BCNA Service Directory which is found under the Menu Tab "Understanding Breast Cancer", then selecting for "Find Services & Support Near You" and then "Physical Appearance Support".
This has just been a subject that has got under my skin over the years because I feel it's an unnecessary burden to have layered on top of all the tough decisions that go with breast cancer
and getting on with life. I am keen to hear from anyone who can recommend
a fashion label or retailer that you've found offers a great range that 'works' for your needs so I can continue to grow the site and make it as broadly useful to the breast
cancer community as possible. I'd also be very keen to hear where the site doesn't
quite cover your particular needs if you too find clothes shopping a struggle. Julie