Cancer Lesson #73: Being Treated for Breast Cancer Expands Your Undergarment Wardrobe.

Cancer Lesson #73: Being treated for breast cancer expands your undergarment wardrobe.

Sorry, guys. I’m not talking Victoria’s Secret. Think Bridget Jones’s granny panties.

You see, while having tissue relocated from stomach to chest leaves a flatter stomach (Yay!), it also weakens the abdominal muscles (Boo!)

Hence, the temporary need for support knickers, aka “granny panties.”

For several weeks – or was it months? – these lovely undies were accessorized by a cotton contrivance of a brassiere with thick straps and Velcro closures. Sexy, this bra was not.

For a long time, even wearing a sports bra was painful because of my scars so I resorted to camisoles, and not the alluring lacy ones the word calls to mind. Mine were more like tank tops with lycra. Not bad, but definitely not the come-hither attire of a siren.

Then I had my “reconstruction revision procedure.” How’s that for a medical euphemism? (See Cancer Lesson #43 “A Glossary” for more and #57 “Sets Don’t Have to Match” to add to your breast vocabulary.)

Happily, the anesthesiologist knocked me out for the procedure. Unhappily, I work up wearing yet another surgical bra.

Sigh. I put on my big girl panties and got on with it.

Addendum: I would be remiss if I closed without sharing a link to “Otto Titsling” sung by Bette Midler. If you’ve never heard this paean to the subject of female support, click through and enjoy.

6 thoughts on “Cancer Lesson #73: Being Treated for Breast Cancer Expands Your Undergarment Wardrobe.

  1. If only it were so simple… I’m being ‘expanded’ to make room for a saline implant. The normal side is at the normal level for a woman of my age. The hard half tennis ball on the other side is six inches higher and immovable. Pert is not the word, it’s positively insolent! The problem is to haul the normal side up to a roughly equal level, and then *keep it there*. Surgical bras can’t cope, I’m having to wear a very, very firm sports bra and some rather bizarre padding. I’ve never been so buxom in my life, and I’m not at all sure I like wearing a shelf on my chest… Roll on the day when the expander comes out, the final implant goes in, and everything sighs with relief and thankfully heads south a little!
    Thank you so much for the Bette clip, I was laughing out loud!


    • Sorry. I can’t help laughing at the idea of insolent breasts. Although, when you think about it, getting cancer was pretty damn insolent of them, wasn’t it? And sounds like your adventures just continue. Glad you enjoyed Bette.


  2. Getting cancer was positively rude! One more procedure to go, and then I’m calling a halt. No nipple reconstruction, all my research shows they flatten out or fail too often and the tattooing needs to be renewed. Instead, I’ve found a company in the US that makes incredibly realistic silicone nipples moulded from your own remaining one. You can keep it on for 2 weeks at a time, and then just clean it, reapply the surgical adhesive and off we go again. Very simple, and painless! If you know anyone who might benefit, the website is here:


    • Thanks for leaving the website. Someone else might need it. I think you know my reconstruction was a bit different — a TRAM flap, done immediately after the mastectomy. Dr. K also made the “nipple” at that time, and I did get a bit of the tittoo done, but didn’t bother to try to make it actually match. I just don’t care that much about how it looks.


      • I find that having to live so long with an ugly, crumpled mess around the scar and a caved-in chest has made me want ‘normality’ more than perhaps I would if the reconstruction had been immediate. A TRAM flap was a scar too far for me: 8″ of scar from three separate surgeries was quite enough, and I lived too remotely from a surgeon who could do the whole job in one go – the joy of living in rural Australia.


  3. I’m sure I’d feel the same in your shoes. I do have quite a long scar on my stomach from the TRAM, along with all the others around my breast. And my recovery time was MUCH longer than friends who had straight mastectomies. The plus side was getting it all done at once, though I had to have several “revisions” — and don’t you love THAT euphemism? I had some dead tissue removed and then some other adjustments made around the TRAM scar. Done with all that now though, hopefully for good. As I hope you soon will be.


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