Flicking through the high summer Bravissimo (D to J cup underwear) catalogue, I feel despondent. Its quarterly arrival used to be an exciting day as I stuck post it notes all over it and then ordered new bright, patterned bras.
Now, of course, I can’t wear underwired bras due to my scars and thinner, irradiated skin. Also I have no clue what my bra size is now: there’s still extra fluid enlarging and distorting my back where a huge chunk of muscle was removed. There is still swelling around my whole bra area – chest, back and even underarm as all my lymph nodes were cancerous and had to be ripped out.
Flicking through page after page of bright bras and sets and underwired jungle print bikinis, the tears start rolling down my cheeks. For six months I’ve been wearing black pull-on crop tops, the ‘training bras’ of this blog’s title. I just want to be able to flaunt my curves in ‘tropic exotic’ by panache “a tropically inspired half cup style in cute candy colours and lovely floral embroidery…finished with bright pink bows.” A riot of lilac, tangerine, fuchsia and cobalt – this is one that would have topped my wish list a mere 13 months ago. Or what about Freya’s ‘jungle fever’: “bring out your animal instincts in this sassy semi-sheer balconette! The monochrome zebra print with an added pop of neon pink.” My imaginary list would be rounded off with Freya’s Bombshell: “this soft shell print in sweet shop colours”. Anyway: I can’t get any of them, sadly.
A desultory flick through the swimwear/ holiday section throws up not a single wire-free swimsuit or bikini either. After a year of immunity-suppressing chemo and radiotherapies, I am finally allowed to swim again, but I’m not allowed sun on my irradiated skin – my whole right side of chest, back, neck, underarm and shoulder – so there would be little point in a bikini anyway. Plus I’m 10 pounds heavier than I was 14 months ago, so I’d hardly be inclined to expose my fat, white tummy and so on.
And it’s not as if my what-to-wear problems stop there. Due to having had a 28ff bust my whole adult life, my wardrobe is full of v-neck tops, low-cut dresses, wrap dresses and other clothes that are slashed almost to the waist at the front. Now, with huge, red angry-looking scars almost up to my collarbone on my right side, I simply can’t wear those clothes. I recycle my three high-necked tops again and again.
As usual, I come to the conclusion that I need some new clothes for my dates: new underwear from a specialist mastectomy place (wonder if they will have anything suitable for a 35 year old?) and new higher necked tops and dresses. Having resolved to spend some money (not that I have any, of course) I start to feel excited about my new wardrobe.

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