I love shopping and always have, just like my mum. My sister, on the other hand, wishes the appropriate clothes would just appear in her wardrobe. It’s funny how differently you can turn out from the same mould yet how well you can complement each other. I have always delighted in finding the right piece of clothing for an occasion or the biggest bargain. Anyone who knows me can agree that our discussions always end up focusing on fashion – the latest do’s and don’ts and when the next big sale’s on.
I wouldn’t say that my love for shopping died when I got breast cancer, but it certainly went on hold for a while. I still browsed shops online but clothing wasn’t at the top of my shopping list. It had lost its appeal. The ease and enjoyment I had always felt, was gone and that was a sad feeling. It’s a real knock to your confidence when something which was so easy and enjoyable becomes difficult and frustrating. In the beginning, I ended up wearing the same go-to pieces in the wardrobe that would never fail. But after a while I thought to myself, “Hang on a minute, this is not me! I have at least a 2 week clothing cycle and I am now wearing something again within 2 days? Something has to change here.” Emotionally, I was not going to sustain having to wear the same thing over and over.
But as I’ve said before, mastectomy really is no different from other setbacks. It’s just like after you’ve had a baby, when you think you will be able to quickly jump back into your pre-pregnancy clothes and then get depressed when nothing fits you because you still look pregnant. Or when you put on a little weight and nothing fits and you go to the same pieces over and over refusing to go to the shops and get the bigger size – I will lose that weight!! It’s depressing.
But I’ve realised that how you feel in clothing really does affect your self-esteem. If you get a dress that’s a bit bigger because you’ve put on weight but you feel amazing in it and rock it, then you are going to feel good about yourself and probably more likely to lose weight than regularly squeezing yourself into something that looks terrible. So for me, I knew I had to make a change and start feeling amazing in clothes again.
My biggest fear when my body changed and I had to look differently at clothing, was that all the brands I used to like, I wouldn’t be able to wear. Where would I shop now? Which mastectomy clothing shop has a ‘Shop and Save’ for goodness sakes?! But as I persevered, it dawned on me that it’s not that I wouldn’t be able to wear those same brands again, I would just have to be more selective and prepared for the fact that I will have more ‘nos’ before I find the right piece. Unlike the days when I could walk into the shop and virtually try on anything, I would now have to search a bit deeper in the racks for the styles that are appropriate and that’s ok because after all I love shopping right?!!
When you have just lost your chest though, shopping does feel like more of a chore because you are so out of your depth. You don’t feel great about yourself and how you look and you are getting used to so many changes and let’s face it, no one should ever go shopping when they are feeling like that. If you are post mastectomy, give yourself time to adjust, wear those comfortable outfits day in day out and cut yourself some slack. I say this because I know from experience that it does change. Slowly over time, your confidence comes back and you adjust to your new chest like any other life change. You will find your new ‘normal’ again. Just like anything in life, my mother always told me…
I really mean it when I say don’t give up on your favourite brands. Today, I want to show you what I managed to find at Country Road, one of my favourite brands. Thinking that I might find one or two items that suit, I managed to find 10!! Sometimes, it just takes a good session in a change room with a trusted friend (and on this occasion for me my wonderful mother-in-law) who will be honest with you about how it looks, and you’ll find some great pieces. Shop and Save is on right now at http://www.countryroad.com.au. Whatever your favourite brand might be…you will still be able to wear it.
Have a wonderful week.
I am breastless and beautiful.