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In It Together – A Partner’s View on Breast Cancer

In It Together – A Partner’s View on Breast Cancer

Every good road trip starts with hot coffee and a proper apple fritter. In the case of a first date road trip, flowers are needed as well. So, properly equipped, I started out on the 3-hour trip up the coast to meet someone who EHarmony […]

What NOT to Wear After Unilateral Mastectomy

What NOT to Wear After Unilateral Mastectomy

By the time I learned I had breast cancer, I knew exactly what worked for me when it came to my wardrobe, I had perfected my “look.” I also knew exactly what didn’t work clothing wise and simply knew when to walk away from something […]

The Benefits of Wearing Black After Mastectomy

The Benefits of Wearing Black After Mastectomy

There once was a time, back in my skinny days, when I was sure that I knew what was most flattering for my body. Therefore, almost everything I owned was black.

Back then I didn’t happen to have much in the breast department. Also, I was a size two, sometimes four, and I was pretty happy with that nice number on my clothing labels. But things change. I remember when I started gaining weight and had to go shopping. I cried when I put on a pair of size six jeans…and they fit.

I bet you scoff as much as I do about how naïve that now sounds, my size six days disappeared long ago, to a far away land…a time best forgotten.

The Day I Stopped Wearing Black

Of course, since we’ve all been told how slimming black is, how it hides questionable body lumps and looks elegant overall, I wore it with even more vigor. But there was a day when I stopped buying black. I remember the decision well. Like most of my slap-me-in-the-face moments, it came straight out of the mouth of my daughter…

“Want to see what I got?” I asked her, pulling out my shopping bag to show her my new treasure. “What do you think? Isn’t it cute?”

“It looks like everything you own.” she stated.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s black.” she said, “Everything you own is black.”

I had never noticed before, but she was right. It hit me that I had spent most of my life in black. I had been wearing it everywhere. I wore it out with my girls. I wore it on date nights. I even wore it to work because I was a waitress at the time and was required to wear black.

Black is Back

In the years following my daughter’s blunt statement, I changed careers, changed sizes, and changed my wardrobe. I purged myself of all the black I had previously owned and loved.

Fast forward to now.

When I was shopping to prepare for my mastectomy, I came across a lovely, flowing, black top…and couldn’t resist it. Ever since, I have re-infused my closet with my old, trustworthy friend, Black. I’m happy to say…

Black is back! And it can be for you too. Put black in your closet and you are will reap the rewards. Here are some simple ways you can add black to your repertoire today:

Black Can Help with “Dog Ears”

I was super swollen after my mastectomy. The swelling went along the under part of my chest where my breast used to be. It was so swollen that I often joked with my husband, saying that my body was trying to grow my boob back.

I also developed something known as “dog ears.” This is when your incision has been made in a certain way so that the skin was either not pulled tight enough or it is still swollen. This creates a little pocket of skin near the armpit that “flaps” over the incision site.

My swelling eventually did go down. However, I developed a slight case of truncal lymphedema. This condition means that if I wear a bralette for too long, it can cause swelling in my chest area (recreating the “dog ear”) that will sometimes last for a few days. If you have this problem, black is a great solution.

Why? Because when you look at someone head on who has a “dog ear” and is wearing black, it actually creates the illusion of having a breast where there is none.

(If you happen to grab a black v-neck, it will help you create the extra disguise of having a breast. This is due to the neckline giving the appearance of breasts and can even produce what looks like shadows of cleavage.)

Black Designs that Cross Over

 I have both a dress and jumpsuit that crisscross in the front. This design is great because the crossing over disguises your figure by hiding your non-breasted body. But the impact is heightened even more because of its color. Black adds to the whole effect. It’s like a double disappearing-act.

(Feature photo is a jumpsuit from Anthropologie; Wrap-dress in this photo is from Gap)

Black Slit-Between-the-Breast(s)

This is style really can fool even your total, full-on “boob guy.” (Is that sexist? Probably. Oops!) The point is, this look is one that small-breasted woman have been using for years. The plunging neckline is daring for sure. And for a reason. It oozes confidence and sexuality. Adding black to this design helps to fill in the void without making it look like there’s an empty space where your breast once was. Thus, it gives the illusion of breasts.

(Jumpsuit by Mary J from a local clothing store)

Black Ruffles

This little black dress says, “Va-Voom!” And every girl needs to have such a little black dress in her closet. For me, all of my pre-cancer ones no longer worked for me after my mastectomy. So a few weeks ago I went shopping with my mum and came across this dress. I put it on and couldn’t believe just how well it fit – not to mention how sexy and curvy I looked! As I encouraged in my article, “Get Ready for Ruffles”, now is the time to go grab yourself a cute little black dress like this. Mine is from Guess.

While we are on the topic of black (and ruffles) I must give a huge shout out to Ana Ono who (literally this weekend!) came out with a new line of swimwear for us (both unilateral and bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction) that has both!

You can buy this black, ruffle, flat-friendly bathing suit here.

I hope you are now convinced to get back in black, because, even though you may not want to go overboard and fill your closet with only this color, black is great for life after mastectomy. See, even old dogs do learn new tricks!

Get Ready for Ruffles

Get Ready for Ruffles

Let’s talk about one of my favorite fashion embellishments made popular again last year and this year has, lucky for us, taken its place center stage among summer’s more stylish and flirty wear. That’s right Girls…Get ready for ruffles. An avid lover of ruffles now, […]

Let’s Get Physical – Sex After Mastectomy

Let’s Get Physical – Sex After Mastectomy

Let’s face it, the fear of having a mastectomy is more than just worrying about cancer. With almost any other type of cancer diagnosis people don’t automatically worry about how it will affect their sex life. Yet, most woman’s doctors, partners, and even friends, are […]

How We Fit

How We Fit

“Babe, are you a boob guy?”

Why I had decided that this question was only now so vitally important is lost on me. But it was, so I asked.

Why now? Because it was about 6 weeks after my mastectomy and it had suddenly become apparent that I had never actually consulted my husband about his sexual preferences on body parts….more specifically, my body parts.

Back when I had been diagnosed with cancer, both my surgeon and my husband were in agreement that I should get a lumpectomy. I remember my doctor mentioning that removing my breast could have consequences for my sex life. I thought that was a pretty big assumption for someone who had never actually slept with me.

I responded with “I need both my feet to walk, I need two hands, but my boobs have done their job. I fed two children with them. I don’t need them to function.”

Before surgery I told everyone I came into contact with that I was going to have my breast removed and was saying, “No” to reconstruction.

On several occasions people did actually asked me (in awkward fashion), “How is your husband doing with your decision?”

I would jokingly say, “It’s fine, he sleeps on my right, so he’ll still be looking at a boob!”

The week before my surgery I had texted a picture of my boobs every day to my husband. I also felt compelled to put on every bra that had been carelessly lost and forgotten at the bottom of the closet.

The bras were those poor, frilly, lacey things that waited patiently for that one birthday, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day to come along so that they could see the light of day (or candlelight, rather). But every time, when the evening would come and it was time to put them on, I couldn’t be bothered.

Now, time had run out and the overpriced six inches worth of lace and frills were suddenly and sadly wasted investments.

That’s when the worry started to set in.

Would I still look good to my husband? Would he still want to have sex with me or would he find my new body ugly? Yet every time he suggested I just have a lumpectomy, I sternly cut him off with, “MY BODY, MY CHOICE.”

There was clearly no room in my mind for his concerns.

The morning of my surgery arrived, as did we to the medical center. One last stop at my bedside by my surgeon before putting me under and he asked again, “You sure this is what you want to do?”

“I did have second thoughts,” I had to admit to him, “three days ago. So, I read everything again. I am positive. I know this is what I want. I’m ready.”

And with that, I was put out and wheeled in.

When I came to, a nurse and my husband were trying to get me up. Removing my gown with my husband’s help, I looked down for the first time to see the blank space where my breast used to be.

Obviously still heavily medicated I proclaimed, “Oh, I look GOOD! Take a picture Babe!”

Getting intimate with your partner after having your body altered can be scary. But I knew that if I started worrying about it and then let it fester, it would only be a short time before my thinking turned it into reality. I’m happy to report that nothing has changed in the bedroom department besides being slightly altered by pain occasionally while I was healing.

With a stroke of luck, I now find myself sprawled against my husband’s chest. I sink in and settle into him in a way I never could before. With my one breast removed the pieces of our puzzle fit better. Our hearts are closer.

“Babe, are you a boob guy?”

He looks at me and answers “Any man who limits himself to just boobs is an idiot!”

 

*This is one of a two-part series on intimacy after mastectomy*

 

 

How to Prepare Your Closet for Summer

How to Prepare Your Closet for Summer

Well, I don’t know about you, but, I wonder if this weather is ever going to change! I spent a lot of years living in England and am not much of a winter person because of it. Back then, there were only two types of […]

Styling with Sheer Tops

Styling with Sheer Tops

You’ve been waiting for me to give you some good tips on tops that don’t include my obsession with white t-shirts. Hopefully, you won’t be upset with me for keeping this to myself for far too long…But I’m about to change your world. What the […]

Let’s Get Our Fancy Pants On!

Let’s Get Our Fancy Pants On!

My wardrobe boasts a lot of great items and patterned pants are among my favorites. For whatever reason, I have always been attracted to pants with different colors, textures and designs. Seriously, if I were to categorize my closet into piles of tops, sweaters, skirts, dresses, pants, etc., my pile of pants would be the largest.

Let’s look at 4 different types of pants you can wear that will enhance your wardrobe, divert attention from your chest, and that are easy to pair with a t-shirt, blouse or sweater.

 Velvet Pants

I am sooooo in love with velvet. Luckily the trend that started last fall shows no signs of slowing or disappearing anytime soon. This is good because I have seven different pairs in my closet.

Yes, seven!

Seven pairs of velvet pants for me to choose from. (And that doesn’t include all the other velvet items I’ve invested in.) Like I said, I am so in love with velvet!

And, since I’m all about textures, when I am wearing my velvet pants I like to pair them with a plain white t-shirt then add a chunky sweater and a colorful scarf or a Kimono with a nice chunky necklace. With all this stuff going on, no one will be noticing your chest.

(Velvet Pants featured here are from Forever 21)

Patterned Denim

I have a few different pairs of patterned denim jeans. The ones featured here are currently my favorite denims. I love the pattern, especially on white.

I have several pairs of white jeans and the great thing about them is that, if something gets on them, the pattern on them diverts attention from any marks or stains. Now that grandchildren are a part of my life, I need all the help I can get.

I have paired these jeans with a bright blouse full of ruffles. I think we can all agree that, in this photo, nothing looks like it’s “missing.”

 

(Patterned Denim featured here are from Charter – c/o the Goodwill)

Embroidered Jeans

I’m such a fan of embroidery. It’s actually one of my favorite hobbies, so I was excited when I found these embroidered jeans last month at TJ Maxx for $19.99 (every time I wear them people ask where they are from – you’re welcome).

The bright colors in the design on the side draw your eyes down. I like to wear mine with a white t-shirt (I know, I know…there’s a theme going on here) and add a blazer to dress it up.

(Embroidered Jeans featured here are from TJ Maxx) 

 

 

Long Flowing Pajama Style Pants

When I saw these a few weeks ago, I grabbed them. They were the last pair in my size and I just love how Pajama Style pants make me feel like I’m not dressed, even though I am! If you can’t be bothered to get it together for work just throw these on and you’re instantly dressed up.

I like wearing mine with a black T-shirt and a plain jacket or blazer. The style, pattern, and texture of these pants, makes it easy for you to be plain about the rest of your outfit. Picking a bold large pattern along with the movement of the material and style of these pants, keeps the eyes away from the fact that you don’t have a breast.

(Flowing Pants featured here are from Forever 21)

I encourage you to go out and get yourself some fancy pants! Feel free to snap a picture and post it on the I Don’t Need Two Facebook page. We’d all love to see what you come up with!

Have You Said “Thank You” to Your Body Lately?

Have You Said “Thank You” to Your Body Lately?

Want to know a little secret? I’m going to let you in on one now. There’s a certain someone (I will not name names or genders so let’s just use the new gender neutral “them/they”)…There’s a certain someone who I spent an exorbitant amount of […]