October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this month we've been fortunately to have the opportunity to talk with Joyce. Joyce has shared with us her journey and how her lingerie needs have changed after her breast cancer surgery.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey so far and where you are today?
I found a lump next to my nipple September last year during a photoshoot of all things. My skin was extra sensitive to a body wax photoshoot and this was when I noticed a pea sized lump. My mammogram was already booked for October so brought it to the attention of the sonographer. At that point the hospital said there was no cause for concern. Well July came along and my nipple was starting to change shape. The lump was starting to pull my nipple down. I spoke to my doctor and a follow up appointment was booked, due to my sister having been diagnosed when she was 50. Well, 15th August I went in for mammograms. Having had a cyst diagnosed by Lady McAddens breast unit in my 40s, when the scans took place on this occasion and they were talking about how it appeared I knew it wasn't good. I had mammograms, 3D mammograms and scans taken, as a precursor to biopsies all that morning. I cried whilst the biopsies were being taken, the nurse and doctor were concerned they were hurting me. The truth was my father had passed in March and all I could think of was I wanted him to hold my hand. The rest of that day was a blur. Telling hubby I had cancer along with my work colleagues. I waited to tell my children and family as I wanted to know the fullest extent, so that was done once all scans and MRIs were done. 6 weeks and 1day later I had my cancer cut out along with 22 lymph nodes removed, as 1 node had cancer too. I'm now 4weeks and 3days post op (29/10/23) and waiting on oncotyping results (whether my cancer is responsive to chemo), this will help the oncology team decide as to whether it's chemotherapy, radiotherapy or both, and tablets potentially for life.
How have your lingerie needs changed over this time?
I'm currently having to wear post surgery bras which have no boning or wiring due to the incision under my arm and across my nipple area, where my lumpectomy took place. Going forward I don't know whether I'll ever be able to wear wired bras due to scaring, but as it stands my bra set I purchased from Pip & Pantalaimon fits me comfortably and is a design I can wear for future photo shoots.
Can you share with us some of the solutions that you’ve found work best for you?
Surgical bras have been the most comfortable for me. I've tried sports bras which I know other breast cancer surgery patients have been able to wear, but due to all lymph nodes being removed from my right arm, I need something that stimulates the drainage of Seroma which my glands used to do. I found that a gauze pad helped protect my nipple area and under arm, once the steristrips had been removed. I initially found that a small cushion under my arm helped ease my sleeping discomfort the first week post surgery. You need to listen to your bodies ladies. If you're tired, sleep. If you want to walk, walk but ensure you are properly supported If you are fitted with a binder to wear, wear it. It's not the prettiest of things, but post surgery you need it. Listen to all the advice given by the nurses and doctors pre and post your surgery. Keep up with your exercises to alleviate any pulling sensations you may get. I also found Pip & Pantalaimon's deep suspenders are perfect for ladies who have had abdominal surgery as part of their breast reconstructive surgery. Making us feel good about ourselves without having everything on show. Going back to that 40s/50s sassy sexy styling
I'm was introduced to a Facebook group called "breast friends". No matter where you are on your journey, the people at Breast Friends can give you help and support if wanted or needed.
Words and model @jj_phoenix_model