I’m Caroline, founder of LoveRose Lingerie. While many of you may already know my story, I wanted to take some time to talk about the journey I’ve been on. I hope that this will encourage others to share their stories and join the community we’re creating here at LoveRose.
I’m Irish but have
lived in Scotland for almost 30 years. I studied fashion design and worked in
retail before returning to uni to study sculpture. In 2006 I set up and was
lucky enough to be the director of a contemporary gallery for emerging artists
in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, life threw some curveballs and stress caused me to
become very ill. I got Bell’s Palsy, then the virus went into my heart, causing
heart failure. The same week that I got out of hospital I came home to a letter
saying that they had found something on my recent mammogram requesting I go
back for further tests. It was surreal, heart failure, cancer, what next? It
was hard to process, considering I was fit and not a sickly person, bar being
knocked down as a kid, but that’s another story!
married and have two wonderful children and instantly as a mother you go into
superhuman strong mode. I had lots of operations that year (5 in total)
scooping out but preserving as much natural breast as they could, 2012 finished
with 20 rounds of radiotherapy. At New Year I held a ceremony with my family
and burnt the calendar on Anno Horribilis! I had lost my sister Rose to breast
cancer a few years earlier and another sister Mary was in recovery- three
sisters in one family and we don’t even carry the BRCA gene!!
lived the next year with a renewed vigour for life. I didn’t work, (I had never
not worked), I was grateful for everything and I would say I took nothing for
granted anymore. My priorities were different; it was experiences over things,
family and friends over everything and we got a dog. (Best decision ever!)
years on it was back. A lot back, so I had no option but to have a double
mastectomy with reconstruction, waiting until we got Christmas out of the way
for the kids. 2015 I lost my
The thing is, I loved my own breasts and I was really sad to lose them. I stayed strong for my children and pretended I was okay but inside I found it really hard. People, family, friends would all say, “that’s great Caroline you have it all out of your body now you can just get on”, “you look great Caroline you must be so glad to come out the other side”. Well, yes and yes to all of that but I could no longer feel my breasts, they could be on fire and I’d not feel them. I had lost some of who I was, I looked like the old Caroline, but I sure wasn’t feeling like her. Yet.
There is no doubt cancer affects every part of your life. It affects your relationships, and your body image. It can break your spirit. It might take your hair, your eyebrows and lashes too, it might take the part of you that you always felt made you a woman. The emotional and psychological recovery from cancer, for me, was the hardest part.
everyday life though I still faced the problem of dressing, what underwear
could I wear that was comfortable but didn’t look like my grans. I would describethe choice of post-surgery lingerie in the shops as ‘beige’ and online
its mostly medical brands which I found to be too formed or a bit dated. I
wanted colour, I wanted softness, I wanted matching underwear I would have
chosen that doesn’t scream cancer survivor! (I don’t like that phrase) I found it impossible to find bras that
were comfortable as well as feminine or sexy.
One day in May, to be precise May 27th, I went for dinner with my daughter and I wore something lovely but underneath I remember being so conscious of the big ugly strap of the bra I was wearing being visible. I knew what I had on under my top.I felt like crap. That night I made a diary entry, it said ‘I am going to design post-surgery bras. People like me deserve nice underwear too, it would make me feel more ‘normal’, whatever that is!’.
I refused to
accept that what was available had to be my only choice! And so, LoveRose was
born. I want to help other women who have been through cancer feel like they
haven’t been forgotten, and that we too can have sexy, feminine lingerie.
Check back next week for part 2 of Caroline’s story. Thank you so much for reading and we hope you can stick around for the conversation that’s to come. The LoveRose journey is only just beginning and we would love you to join the community at www.loveroselingerie.com , Facebook and Instagram.