Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The bare necessities - Amoena: a review


This is a bit of a nerve wracking post for me as it includes photos of me in my underkecks. However, I didn't feel I could write a fully genuine and helpful post about post mastectomy underwear without actually showing what it looks like on areal person! So, that is purely what the photos are for. Not for titillation or compliments. Just me, doing ma thang -  and hopefully helping others in a similar situation whilst doing it!

Well it's finally happened! I'm being paid for my blog! Well kind of. Ish.

I was contacted last week by a PR company on behalf of Amoena, a company which specialises in lingerie, swimwear and clothing for women who have had partial or full mastectomies. They also sell a range of nifty accessories such as breast prostheses and scarily realistic stick on nipples. I'll be having me some of those at some point I think!  I'm guessing they adhere to the skin pretty well or it would give a whole new meaning to the term nip slip....

Anyway, the lady who contacted me asked if I would feature a new range of post mastectomy lingerie on my blog in return for a free set. Of course I said yes. What woman would turn down the offer of a free set of lovely new under crackers? So the other day I receive a gorgeous new set of lingerie through the post. I went for the Angelique non-wired bra set in Apricot.. Here is a picture of said set after it arrived:

The set I received is slightly different than the one pictured on the site as the cups are smooth rather than embroidered. I'm happy with this however as I think smooth cups often look better under tighter clothing.

Caveat alert! This post is a review of lingerie made by a company which specialises in underwear and clothes for women who have had mastectomies. As I have had immediate reconstruction after my mastectomies, I'll be focusing on the suitability of this lingerie for those in a similar situation. It's difficult for me to comment about how it would fit someone who has had a mastectomy / mastectomies without reconstruction. However, the specialist design of the bra hopefully means it would be suitable for reconstruction and non-reconstruction ladies alike.

I currently have temporary expander implants in after my double mastectomy that differ in size and shape. This is for a number of reasons. They include the fact that more skin had to be taken away on the right side when the tumour was removed so leaving a smaller implant pocket and that the radiotherapy on the right side has caused the implant and tissue around it to contract. So one boob is practically up under my chin, whilst the newer one is a more softer and natural shape. Eventually they will be exchanged for permanent implants that will give a better shape, hopefully in a couple of months time.

However, in the meantime I am pretty lopsided. It was difficult to give a bra size when asked by the PR company but I took a shot in the dark and luckily it was a pretty accurate one. The set fits pretty much spot on and is incredibly flattering.

After a double mastectomy with expander reconstruction, it's very difficult to find bras that don't leave you feeling very sore by the end of the day, let alone ones that actually look good as well. Gone are the days of buying cheap underwear sets from Primark or H&M. I need a good quality bra which provides the right amount of support with a good level of comfort. I can't wear underwired bras as they irritate the scar tissue under my expanders. I can't wear non-padded bras because the difference in size and shape of my breasts is too apparent. And i can't wear too much padding as it leaves little room for my implants to sit properly and well... it just looks ridiculous.

I've had to resort to wearing a lightly padded, non-wired training bra from Next. It's looking pretty grim as you can see:

Yak. But it's the only bra I can find that gives a decent enough shape to hide my lopsidedness and doesn't leave me wincing in pain at the end of the day. And, yes I've tried to buy a new one but it seems Next have stopped making them. I can't fathom why.....

Time to move on from my Bridget Jones bra to the new one.

The bra that forms part of the set I received is underwired with lightly padded, formed cups. It has pockets in the bra specially made to hold breast prostheses if you use them - or any other breast forming implement you may wish to use!

I don't actually wear any prostheses because of my expander implants but I found that the pockets are great for wearing the good ol' chicken fillets, which I sometimes sport to try and even myself out.

The bra itself fits really well and definitely disguises much of the difference in the current size and shape of my foobs (fake boobs....):

You can still see a slight discrepancy between them, however it's a huge improvement on the Nora Batty bra. And it looks a lot prettier too!

One of the things that is most important to me at the moment is how underwear looks under clothing and how well it evens out my foobs! Well, its not as if anyone is seeing anything under my clothing at the moment. Except for my surgeon and well.... that doesn't really count!

The good news is that the form of the cups means that this bra gives a great shape, even under tight clothing:

 Pretty neat, right?

The bra and knickers are a gorgeous summery colour with detailed embroidery, which makes for a pretty, feminine set of lingerie:

I went for the size 12 in the pants - mainly because I'm now nearing a size 12 thanks to my medication and I also hate my knickers to be too tight. No VPL here thank you very much. 

The knickers fit as well as the bra does - there's no lumps or muffin top or bulging back fat. In fact, the whole set looks party darn peachy. Or apricoty. If that was a word.

Deep breath. Time for a photo of me and my menopause belly. Yikes. All in the name of helping my fellow (wo)man I guess......

It's not a great photo but I tried my best!

After a single or double mastectomy, finding attractive, pretty underwear that is comfortable and doesn't leave you incredibly sore at the end of the day is so difficult. However, it's arguably the time that you need it the most. Body confidence can be very low after such significant changes to your body and your self image takes a huge nose dive.

As many women will know, wearing a pretty set of lingerie under your clothes psychologically feels as lot better than your old greying pants and saggy bra! Regardless of whether anyone else is going to see it or not, good quality lingerie can help you to feel a million dollars. Or in my case a fiver rather than a two pence coin!

It does make such a difference to find feminine underthings that are also comfortable and disguise any missing boobs or misshaped implants. It helps you claw back a little bit of 'feeling like a woman' again, after cancer has taken so much of it away. The price of this underwear is higher than your standard high street brand, however I do genuinely believe that in this case you're paying for the quality and specialist style.

If you are able to, I definitely recommend giving yourself a little bit of a well earned treat and investing in a set of knickerbocker glories from Amoena. Once I have my permanent foobs in place, I know I'm going to find to very hard to resist doing a complete underwear drawer overhaul! Or maybe that should be 'under'haul.......