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Karen’s Story

I’m Karen, I’m 47 and I am Mum to Tristan (aged 12) and partner to Alistair.

I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer 3 years ago, at the same time I found out that I also have the mutated BRCA1 gene. Unfortunately, after getting the all clear it has since come back a further 3 times. In September 2018 I found out that it was metastatic and that’s when my world changed, we knew things weren’t going to be ‘normal’ again. I am now on a targeted treatment drug which I pray keeps my cancer at bay for as long as possible and gives me a good remaining quality of life with my family. I am devastated that I am now constantly living with cancer. As a family there was so much we had been looking forward to – the holidays we’d go on and watching my son grow up, all of that now seems uncertain. I am absolutely terrified that my son is likely to have to grow up without his Mummy and that I won’t have the future with Alistair that I thought I would so I want to spend what time I have left enjoying life to the full and trying to look and feel good as I do it.

During the last 3 years I have had various surgeries including a double mastectomy and an LD flap surgery (where they take muscle and skin from your back and ‘swing’ it round to the front to form part of your breast!). I was actually quite pleased with the results of the surgery as it gave me a better shape than I had before but I then found it was difficult to find nice lingerie that both felt good and looked good. I am looking forward to LoveRose launching as it will give me a selection of lingerie designed with women like me in mind. After everything that we have been through we still deserve the right to look good!

Karen x

Lisa’s Story

Hi, I’m Lisa – A fighter, Someone’s friend, Someone’s family member, a reborn optimist and last but not least, a survivor. 

I am 34 years young & live in a small town called Airdrie with my best friend (my dad). In 2016 my life changed forever, I’m a great believer in everything happens for a reason and so has therefore taken you to this minute that you sit reading my story today. 

I’ve never had any health concerns and I was always the type to down play symptoms to avoid a doctor visit however sometimes in life you just know things don’t feel quite right. I had fluid coming from my nipple which I ignored and allowed to pass for a few weeks until I decided I needed to get it seen to. I went to see my dr and was advised this was somehow ‘normal’ but I just wasn’t going to be happy without a diagnosis that made sense and a solution so I pushed back my concerns and was referred to my local hospital to see a breast specialist.

When I attended this appointment I was informed I would be having an ultrasound, and much to my happiness was told it was a blocked milk duct. I was told to monitor my breast and come back if anything changed in any way, I noticed a difference in colour. I went back to see my dr and was told he wanted to remove the duct. I felt a sense of fear yet ever so slight relief. I went in to day surgery on the 17th of January 2017, everything went well and my follow up appointment was booked in for the 21st of Feb 2017.

The day of my follow up appointment came – I got my dressing removed and I was told to take a seat and wait for the breast surgeon to come, I felt nervous of the outcome, and the news he delivered made my heart sink as I sat alone in front of a stranger telling me that I had Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a form of breast cancer. I was not prepared to be told such news, my whole world was shattered and at that moment in my life was when I felt most alone and needed my mum more than ever, but unfortunately she’s already with the angels. It’s strange that you can sit in company and feel lonely and almost instantly my life was empty. I looked at this dr with envy almost- why me? Why couldn’t things go back to the way they were an hour before when I wasn’t aware of such earth shattering news. And how am I now meant to go away from this and deliver such news to my family and my friends. 

I was told I would have a lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiotherapy then was referred for a mammogram. The mammogram results threw a spanner in the works and shocked both the surgeon and myself, I was to have a mastectomy. On the 31st of May 2017 I underwent a right sided DIEP mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. 

This has been a life changing experience for me and completely changed my outlook and appreciation of life. Prior to this I was forever dieting and working out when to book in for my next hair and nail appointments but all of a sudden none of this mattered – life did, family, strangers, beautiful countryside, and most importantly, time. Beforehand I would sit in work on a Friday 2 hours from finishing time and wish those 2 hours away to get home but not now, countdown to a holiday or event I’m looking forward to – now every minute I have on this planet matters to me and this has taught me to be grateful. People would say I’m unlucky but I’m not, I’m still here to tell the tale so I’d say I’m pretty damn lucky. 

LoveRose and everything it lives for and represents is just so amazing in my opinion, when I tried their bra on I felt sexy again and when I looked at my chest in my bra I no longer saw the horrific ordeal and pain. I saw a normal young lady with ample amazing breasts and an amazingly beautiful bra. 

Lisa Courtney x

Christina’s Story

I’m Christina.

A woman, a mummy and a BRCA1 mutation carrier.

I’m 32 and live in Edinburgh with my fiancé, our two crazy kids and our puppy.

I was offered genetic testing after losing a close cousin to ovarian cancer in 2015. At that point I hadn’t really heard of the gene before. After the result of the genetic test came back positive for the BRCA1 mutation, my fiancé, genetics counsellor and I discussed the various options available. It was a lot to take in, a lot of decisions to make and a LOT of emotions to deal with.

As we have two young children, after a lot of researching and talking, we thought it best to go ahead with risk reducing surgery. That was the right choice for us as a family but not necessarily the right choice for other women. It’s so important that such life changing decisions are yours to make.

When all is said and done you have to do what’s best for you.

My initial operation was Lipomodelling in March 2016. It’s where fat is removed from your thighs, hips or abdomen and transferred to your breasts. It helps to plump out the skin and give your breast a more natural feel. It has to be said though; I was not prepared for the extent of bruising that I had. WOW! I then had my mastectomy with reconstruction in June 2016. Physically I’ve recovered well and I’m happy with the results. Although, having the kids ask why my boobs are so ‘sticky outy’ when I’m lying down and getting used to my ever pert right nipple took a bit of time! I went on to have corrective surgery with additional Lipomodelling in January 2017, followed by an implant exchange on my right breast, further lipomodelling with nipple correction and finally, removal of my fallopian tubes in October 2017. Hopefully I will not need any further breast surgery…..fingers crossed. As much as I love my surgeon, I’d like to see him under different circumstances for a change. I will still however need to have my ovaries removed around the age of 40-45 to further reduce my ovarian cancer risk.

It took months battling through a fog of emotions, with a lot of support that only now, 3 years on from my mastectomy I feel truly empowered about my decision. There have been days when I wish I had never found out about my mutation but ultimately, I am grateful. I was given knowledge which gave me power. It’s made me realise how precious life and health really are and just how blessed I am. I’ve learned to accept the scars I see when I look in the mirror.

Becoming a part of LoveRose came at a time when I was learning to love myself again. Perfect timing.

Christina x

Caroline’s Story Part 2

I’ve always loved lingerie. Before cancer I was that girl that wore matching sets even under a tracksuit (my lingerie was, and always will be, only for me!). It has the power to help me feel good about myself, gave me a secret confidence, was my armour, got me ready for my day, that was all BBC (before breast cancer).

I am not going to focus on treatment here there are lots of informative blogs for that. I want to focus on recovery and specifically the mental health aspect of my recovery. Post-surgery my scars were healed but my head wasn’t. I certainly never shared openly about the emotional rawness I felt, my mood, or my sense of loss. I felt I couldn’t talk openly about my emotional recovery because I was ashamed to have those feelings. I felt I should be grateful I no longer had cancer- everything else was vain and superficial, right?!

…wrong, what I know now is emotional recovery is as important as the physical recovery. 

Getting back to life is so hard. I had spent my life training my body in the gym and I felt it had let me down. A good friend said I should try Bikram yoga and to go along with her one Saturday, I had no clue what that meant, yoga is yoga right? Well no- Bikram yoga is 90 minutes open eyed meditation where it’s you and the mirror. You have no choice but to face yourself in that mirror. It’s not a pretty sight let me tell you when you are sweating buckets in the 40-degree heat and humidity, listening to the dialogue, following instruction while leaving your brain outside the door. But it gave me a ninety minute holiday every time I entered that room. It worked. It still does. What I found in this little community at B.E Bikram studio on Easter Road was another family. It helped me so much I am beyond grateful to Emma the owner of the studio. She told me I’d heal from the inside out and all I had to do was face myself in the mirror and the yoga would do the rest. It really helped me accept me, my strength and flexibility, my mind quietning. The room is filled with all shapes and sizes, men and women all ages with their own story no doubt. I learned we are capable of anything if we put our mind to it. We are all amazing humans and we all deserve to love ourselves, So I am forever grateful to my friend who dragged me along that fateful Saturday. It made me stronger mentally and physically and I learnt to accept me.

After breast cancer, dressing can be stressful due to the lack of choice on the market. I couldn’t find underwear that made me feel good or look good. On the outside I looked put-together but I knew that I was wearing a bra made from some poly, nylon, yuck fabric that wasn’t breathable and had industrial size straps that on my frame of 5ft3 felt like another top under my top. I decided to find out how other women who had gone through breast surgery felt and realised I wasn’t alone in feeling that I was somehow forgotten about by the lingerie market. How dare they considering pre cancer I dedicated lots of paychecks to them! It’s ironic really as the lingerie market is worth billions and yet our ever growing sector is being catered for primarily by medical brands.

I felt compelled to try to change this. All of the negative experiences helped when designing the initial collection. It’s a small collection trying to cover as many outcomes of surgery as possible. LoveRose centres around beautiful soft bras made using luxury sustainable fabrics. In the first collection we are using recycled lace, silks and a breathable tencel jersey, which has anti bacterial qualities.The first collection will be a mixture of bras, briefs, suspenders and robes which can be ‘mixed and matched’, whether straight from surgery, returning to work or going out with friends and returning to life. There are two pocketed bras for women who have prosthesis, and three others for women have had reconstruction or lumpectomies. They are all soft bras with hidden support. We also have matching briefs, again there are several options to suit your preference, alongside a suspender belt and silk robes all in matching colours. I love wearing all the bras and it’s hard to choose my favourite between them as they all have different design features, including a great night time bra and pant in breathable tencel jersey called “Honey I’m Home” that is like a hug (you’ll be dreaming of putting it on after a long day!). But my favourite has got to be the front fastening bra we call “Lights Down Low” it’s beautiful, sexy and super comfy.

The LoveRose team is Sarah Bell Jones and I and we work with a wider team spread over the UK and Portugal. Sarah is from London but a graduate from Edinburgh and I’m lucky to have found her as we make a great team. We are often getting very interesting glances in coffee shops across the city when we’re checking out fabric samples and drawings, and we’ve yet to have a meeting when one of us isn’t air-drawing boobs! All part of a day’s work! Our models are ordinary women who have had different breast surgeries that are part of our community. If you want to join us as a model we are planning all sorts of shenanigans over the next few months, sign up to our website www.loveroselingerie.com and get in touch!

We are working hard to launch our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in October where you can get an early bird discount for you and friends on pre order. A percentage of sales will also go back to our chosen charities Maggie’s and Coppafeel. Spread the word let’s get LoveRose Lingerie crowdfund to go viral. Us ladies have to stick together and show the lingerie market that we deserve to have a choice too. Stand with us to make change. We matter. 

LoveRose, Love yourself, xoxo

Caroline’s Story Part 1

Hello!

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!

I’m 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!!

I 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!)

Two 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 breasts, RIP.

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.

In 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.

LoveRose, Love yourself!

Xx

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.