Saturday, 21 February 2015

Twisting By The Pool

Last week, Vickie asked how I managed the swimsuit situation. The answer is really "with some difficulty". Swimwear is, by it's nature, fairly revealing and the material doesn't give you much room to hide. Furthermore, I have found that even halter styles, which are great for me in gym wear, are often cut too low on the side to hide my scars. I bought two swimsuits the summer after my mastectomy: a one piece and a bikini. The bikini has had much more wear. It turns out that separates are easier for most types of clothes post-mastectomy!
This is my one-piece. I fell in love with the pattern and figured that the padding in the cups and the ruffles would hide my chest. However, wearing it on a number of occasions has revealed a few problems.
1. The ruffles only hide my chest if they are sitting a particular way. If the water sweeps them aside, all bets are off. So I end up constantly rearranging the top to prevent inadvertent scar exposure. At some level, I think anyone trying to look down my top probably deserves what they get, but I don't feel like being forced to deal with other people's sensitivities because of a wardrobe malfunction. I have read a suggestion that net bath scrubbies can be used to fill out the cups of swimwear and I may give that a try in order to get the back of the cup to sit tightly against my chest wall.
2. I needed to size down in this to get the right fit across the chest. Unfortunately, because I am fairly tall, this has resulted in the body being a bit short for me so I am often pulling the suit up or down.

Here is my bikini. Now, this is more skin than I have exposed since my 20's but this suit is far more practical than the one-piece. The top completely hides my scars. The gathering and a small amount of padding prevents the fabric from clinging and sticking to skin that is a bit bumpy around the scars.  I swim in this very comfortably and don't have to worry about fabric shifting or exposing my chest. The down-side is that it exposes a lot of the rest of my body.

In practice, I tend to wear the bikini in the pool at home or on the beach where everyone else is similarly dressed and I can blend in with the crowd. If I am invited to someone's home where swimming or a spa is planned, I will take the one-piece, especially if there are people there who I don't know well or if there are men present. I have noticed that rash-suits are starting to become more common and that is certainly a practical option both in terms of coverage and sun-protection. I will look into that possibility next summer, but as the warm days draw to an end I will try and get as much wear as I can from the choices I already have. Ultimately, it is about balancing comfort and exposure and doing what feels right for you.

Twisting By The Pool by Dire Straits


  1. LOVE your blog would you email me at :)

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Very helpful! As I was thinking about suits, I wasn't even considering scar coverage so that was a good reminder. I usually wear a 2 piece but through chemo I gained some weight amd lost some tone, so am not sure what this body will look like in a month or so. I had been looking at a 2 piece where the style of the top was very much like a sports bra. I can now see where that might be emphasizing the flatness of my chest TOO much..I loved how the ruffle details of your suits didn't competely disguise, but gave a little hint of distraction :). And by the way, you look fantastic!

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  4. Trying again -couldn't work out how to edit typos!
    Thank you both.
    Ann Marie, I have sent you an email.
    Vickie, I'm so glad that was helpful. A lot of this is trial and error! I found that it took me a good 6 months to get back the muscle mass I had lost, but trying to feel positive and nurturing of my body was a part of healing. You will look fabulous, whatever stage of recovery your body is in! xxx

  5. You are such a brave woman Sharon. I have just read through your entire blog and feel happy that your health has moved forward so well. You have great style and sharing your story has enlightened me on the challenge so many women have to face after diagnosis and post mastectomy. It could be any one of us. While I understand the medical, surgical and radiological part of this illness, I hadn't given enough thought to what it is like for women later. Thank you for sharing and all the very best to you.

  6. Thank you for your kind words and good wishes. I appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings!