Meet Erin Scheithe, a breast cancer survivor in our Andie community.
This is The Pink Diaries, a seven-part segment directed by a group of breast cancer survivors in our Andie community as part of The Support Edit: a collection dedicated to building awareness and supporting research funds, with 50% of proceeds going to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Shop The Support Edit
Whether you’re a breast cancer survivor or previvor, you’ve likely had some surgery on your chest. Experiences range from removing cancerous lumps to complete removal of breasts and nipples, sometimes combined with extensive reconstruction, painful radiation, and scarring. No matter the type of surgery, breast cancer changes your shape and can affect your confidence – especially in swimwear.
Nearly 8 years ago in my early 30s, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy and implant reconstruction. Before that experience, I wanted a flattering, cute bathing suit. Now, I want a swimsuit that highlights my assets, covers my scars, and makes me feel confident. Breast cancer survivors want three things from a swimsuit brand: support, comfort, and coverage.
- Supportive fabrics that hold you in, move and flex with your body are important, but so is a supportive customer service experience. Instead of trying one or two bathing suits, I order multiple styles in several sizes. Reconstructed breasts, breast forms, or breasts affected by lumpectomy surgeries may not fall under standard bra sizing, so a good return policy and empathetic customer support from the brand is so helpful!
- Comfort is vital for breast cancer survivors. Trying on swimsuits in the comfort of your own home is a must. We may have elected to go bigger or smaller in size, some of us have great cleavage, less sagging, and a more rounded shape than natural breasts. And others may have had a bad experience with our reconstruction that they’re anxious to cover up. And still others elected to do no reconstruction at all! Offering a wide variety of styles and fits in a variety of fabrics shows us that we aren’t alone and that there is a good suit for every body.
- Coverage is key, too. Reconstruction and radiation can leave you with some numbness in your chest, lots of scarring, some sensitivity and lumpiness or rippling on your chest and even under your arms. I know I’m not the only breast cancer survivor who hasn’t realized she’s showing more skin than she intended after the splash of a big wave! So a suit that covers and fits you well means no accidental flashing at the beach or pool, but it also means you can show off what you want to show off and keep the rest to yourself.
Everyone affected by breast cancer is different, but we have one thing in common: breast cancer changes and challenges the way we look at ourselves as women. Finding a swimsuit that we feel comfortable in is a game-changer. I applaud Andie for raising awareness of the physical and emotional issues that come up for those affected by breast cancer, as well as contributing to breast cancer research through the Breast Cancer Research Fund. If you’ve been affected by breast cancer, visit www.thebreasties.org to connect with others in a similar situation.