Debbie’s Story

My name’s Debbie and my nature is always to see the sunny side of things – even living in rainy Fife, Scotland.

Being positive has helped me smile through life because if you can’t laugh even when things get tough, what can you do?

Things got very tough when I was told in July last year that I had breast cancer. I’d somehow known the leaky boob was more than just embarrassing. But hearing that word, in the consultant’s room with my husband Mark squeezing my hand, was a shock.

The news came on the first day back from our summer holiday with our daughters, Neve, 13, and eleven-year-old Emily. I’d had tests just before we left for Spain, and it was hard not to worry while we were there. But watching the girls laughing in the pool and playing cards against the sunset on the hotel balcony made me appreciate my family’s closeness more than ever. Mark and I agreed we’d share whatever results I had with them.

But the night we told Neve and Emily during dinner broke my heart. I explained the news gently, with lots of reassurance that my cancer had been caught early and was very much treatable. But it was the hardest moment of my 44 years.

The thing is, when you look for brighter things even in the darkest times you’ll always find some. And seeing how well Neve and Emily coped with everything made me really see what selfless, strong girls we’d raised. The encouragement they gave me while I went through four lumpectomies and a full mastectomy bolstered me.

I saw it as my job to keep everything as normal as possible, so I just got on with things as wallowing was never going to help. So the girls went to school on op and appointment days, attended karate and never missed gymnastics training.

My friends rallied, turning up to offer lifts to hospital for treatment. Having people who ‘get’ my sense of humour was a tonic. Few could believe me and a friend sang “Bye Bye Boobie” to the tune of the Bay City Rollers’ song “Bye Bye Baby” on the way to hospital one day. But we did – and I laughed my head off.

I opted against reconstruction, just so I could recover quicker. That meant I had my mastectomy one Monday and the following Saturday was in a gym hall watching Emily win first place at a big gymnastics competition. I’d lost a boob, but gained a gold. At the gymnastic club’s annual awards, she won the bravest gymnast prize for training so hard even when I was ill. It was such a proud moment for me – isn’t it funny how your kids’ achievements mean so much more than your own?

By the time our next holiday came around, my girls hoped I’d join them in the swimming pool. And I wanted to show them that family life was pretty much the same. It’s a strange feeling, having to get to know your body again after surgery. But it was important to them so I wore a post-surgery swimsuit and loved being in the pool again.

I don’t love wearing big, ugly post-surgery bras every day though. The thought of having a pretty one in a delicate print or fabric, or a matching set, seems like the last step in returning to normality. It’s funny how happy such a small things make you feel.

And that’s the thing about surviving cancer. It changes your life. It gives you new realisation that you, and your family, are stronger than you ever knew. It makes you appreciate good things even when the news seems bad. 

I’ve always felt, and now I know for sure, there are beautiful and positive things to be found absolutely everywhere.

Nichelle’s Story

I’m Nichelle this is my story.

I remember it was Valentine’s Day and my hubby took me away for the night, (kid free) he had got me some beautiful underwear which I just loved. Fast forward 2 weeks and I find the lump, 3 surgeries later one being the biggie a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery on my right breast.

I worked in a department store, so after I was all healed I went up to their lingerie department, they always had beautiful matching set so thought I’ll definitely get some nice new sets. That would be a NO they didn’t do post surgery lingerie at all. I was so disappointed, so went to another high street shop. They did have a few bits but all very plain and only black and white.

Having matching beautiful underwear on makes me amazing.

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