[CANCER/LIFE] Choosing new Boobs and taking an AquaBoob to the Pool!

Last year I wrote that I was quite happy not to draw attention to my breasts, but unfortunately this year means that I’ve had to talk about them a lot – along with losing one, and flashing the other at a variety of medical staff! Anyway, having made it into the swimming pool yesterday for the first time since my mastectomy¬†– as part of my new gym membership… although I’d already given the new swimming costume and prosthetic a test run in Jersey on this lovely beach:


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Evening swim ūüôā

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Apparently these days surgeons are not so fast to whip the boob off, and try and undertake ‘breast-conserving surgery’. I was offered the option of a lumpectomy, rather than a mastectomy, but I just ‘wanted the cancer gone’ – although the surgeon really questioned me about it! Originally we thought it was a Grade 3, unknown stage, 3cm tumour, but it turned out to be Grade 3, Stage 3, 12cm tumour.

There is always going to be the option of a reconstruction, and the surgeon wants to know what I think I’m going to do when I next meet him in November. If I do want one, I go on a waiting list for a year-two, and I would be expected to lose a lot of weight (because any surgery is risky). The surgery, I think, is longer and more risky than the mastectomy was, with a longer recovery process.

With prostheses, however, the intention is that – under clothes – no one can tell (and some of my close friends have said they looked!), and nothing so far has convinced me that I need to go through further surgery (and I’m now in the Flat Friends Facebook group), so here are the options I’ve worked with:


One of the BCNs came to me the morning after the surgery, and gave me a ‘softie’ to wear. This is most suitable for placing over the raw scar tissue that has not yet started healing:

The softie is stuffed with what looks basically like cushion stuffing … and as it’s not very heavy there is a risk that it can end up under your chin!!

The pen marks are from when I got an infection, and the surgeon drew all around the ‘heated area’ to see if it was expanding or reducing.

Knitted Knockers

I laughed when someone told me there was something called the a ‘knitted knocker’, but they are actually FABULOUS. Knitted by a wonderful group of people, literally all one needs to do is tell them what size bra, give them the address, and within a couple of weeks they promise to have one with you. One of my friends made mine for me, but if you need one – check out Knitted Knockers (and see this short video).

There’s the option to have with/without a nibble, extra bits of thread and stuffing are also sent in case your size changes. My friend also put a pebble in one to weight it down, so it doesn’t spring up under the chin .. although she warned me not to wear that one through the airport!

I am still using these within the gym bra, so I don’t have to keep swapping in/out, and it allows that ‘tighter to chest’ feel without feeling like you’re wrestling an alligator into the bra!

‘Official’ Prosthetic

My prosthetic breast was ordered a couple of months after surgery – it was recommended not to do this before this time because the skin is still so swollen and we’d end up with the wrong size. There was some kind of staff changeover within the prostheses team, and I ended up ‘chasing the lost boob’ around the hospital until around Christmas, and then it was the wrong size (too small) and then the wrong shape (tear-drop rather than oval) and I looked quite lop-sided … I’d been wearing it though, so it’s in the attic in case it comes in handy in the future!

We’re entitled to one free prosthetic roughly every 2 years (unless we have drastic weight change), and they cost around ¬£145 each. We’re told to treat them rather like they’re skin, so they can be washed in the sink! If we manage to get any kind of hole in them, we’re told to put a plaster on and see if it survives!

The prosthetic is quite heavily weighted – they try and get the balance between lightweight for ‘comfort’ and weighted to ensure it balances with the other side. It’s quite ‘tactile’ in a skin-like way… I’ve had friends tell me they’ve been sat at friends who have these and ended up sat twiddling the nipple!

It leaves your skin quite warm when at the end of the night you hear it thump onto the floor… or if I’m being more appropriate, putting it for safekeeping (and shape-keeping) in its box:

Post-Surgery Bras

All of these prostheses have to be worn within a ‘pocketed bra’, as explained by Breast Cancer Care:

Choosing a bra after surgery from Breast Cancer Care on Vimeo.

It is recommended that we don’t wear underwired bras, as I understand it mostly because the skin is still healing/pretty numb, so we wouldn’t find the wire poking, although Geraldine from Betty and Belle said that as technology is improving there are more flexible wires that we can look at a year or so down the line. She was also highlighting that the choices are¬†so much better now!


I purchased a swimming costume from Nicola Jane – I had bought one from Asda¬†but when I tried to put the prosthesis in, it sunk to around my belly button – so a more expensive one that holds the prosthesis in place (and doesn’t float off, as I’ve heard has happened to others!).

I was told that I was also entitled to one swimming breast form. These are designed to squidge in a bit more, and not absorb the chlorine in the way that the regular one does.

I’ve check it fits, but when I was off to Jersey the other week, I suddenly thought, I’m on hand-luggage only, and this is clearly more than 100ml, so wasn’t sure I could take it! So I got back onto Knitted Knockers:

Even though I was short on time. Amazingly, I ordered on Friday, and when I returned home on Monday it was already waiting for me, with a lovely note and a chocolate, and packaged beautifully:

It worked really well, and so far I haven’t yet used the swim form … although there is a lot of water to squeeze out post-swim!

So many things that I never wanted to know about, but now I do!


[TOOLBOX] Speedo Fit

2016-01-14 19.31.23So, gradually thinking about some of the apps that I have on my phone… some very ‘quick & dirty’ reviews of what they are and where they get used.

The ‘Speedo app‘ has been available for quite some time (originally under another name, but I can’t remember what)! I remember adding it to my iPad, because it was (is?) only available on iOs¬†… and I had Android phones for most of the last 4-5 years… one problem with this is that I never remembered to add my swimming, because I had to go and get my iPad. Now I’m back on an iPhone, let’s start using it again!

Yesterday I went for my first swim since I moved from Durham (where I used to go swimming 2-3 times per week) … headed for the Manchester Aquatics Centre – which has a 50m pool, but typically is divided into 25m pools … still, surprisingly feels¬†a lot further. Slightly frustratingly when I went to enter the data into the app, the¬†Aquatics Centre isn’t on the system … so I’m curious how the data is entered.

2016-01-14 20.55.35One, however, can add swims manually – swiping left/right to find your numbers (I’m guessing it thinks you’ll be fairly consistent in distances!) and then log your swim.

2016-01-14 20.52.19If you’re into ‘gamification’, you can choose yourself a challenge (I randomly picked the Irish Sea Swim) and each time you log, it indicates how far along you are… and if you want to, add a friend and challenge each other to finish faster?! I’m more interested in challenging myself than others… though socialising with exercise definitely makes me go more!

The app integrates with the ‘Health’ feature that comes by default with your iPhone … so if you’re into quantifying all your exercise… there’s one for you! I’ll be interested to see if I keep using this app, as I’m not overly interested in quantifying my fitness (no Fitbit for me thanks), but I like the idea of saying that I’ve swum the Irish Sea!

What fitness-type apps do you enjoy using?


APP IN USE: Splashpath

Been using this ‘Splashpath’ app for a while – I mix swimming in with other classes (just can’t find the gym interesting any more – was OK when used to go with a friend and just talk as exercise!). I like the fact that I can choose a ‘challenge’ and swim that – I did a short one first, then going for a slightly longer one – just makes the lengths a little more interesting!

You can add swims online, or via the iOS app – it’s not on Android, nor can you add swims backwards aside from using the note function … sure there are more sophisticated apps out there…


What do you use?