A brave breast cancer survivor has created a unique underwear and swimwear range after her own battle with the disease.
Heather Glover, 52, was determined to create pretty and feminine garments for those survivors who have chosen not to have a reconstruction after having their breasts removed to save their lives.
It was based on her own experience after she decided not to have a reconstruction – yet was faced with being unable to find any feminine underwear and swimwear for her flat shape. Now she has created the stunning range together with her seamstress friend Kate Maurice.
The swimwear was launched a few weeks ago – and its modelled by two of Mrs Glover’s friends who have also battled the disease themselves.
Mrs Glover, a nurse, who lives with husband Rich, 59, in Macclesfield, Cheshire, was devastated when she was diagnosed with aggressive triple-negative breast cancer at the age of 46.
The couple, who have children Sam, 24, Megan, 23, and Hatty, 18, had already had several families members including Mrs Glover’s dad and sister, suffer through cancer. And her sister-in-law Catherine had also been diagnosed with breast cancer six months previously.
She said: “I went in the shower and found a lump. Initially, I wasn’t worried as I’d had lumps at several stages in my life, which had always been benign. So when I got this one checked out and they broke the news to me that it was cancer, it was an incredible shock.
“Afterwards I realised that having dense breast tissue and family members who’d had cancer already were red flags, and it should have been a warning to me.”
She had to start chemotherapy straight away in the summer of 2017, but after the chemotherapy finished the tumour hadn’t shrunk, which was devastating.
She then underwent surgery to remove the lump and radiotherapy as it had spread into her lymph nodes.
Mrs Glover said: “I thought I’d finished the treatment, and I managed to run a half marathon in 2018 and went back to work. But then in December, I got a shooting pain in my breast. I thought I’d done too much exercise and it was a pulled muscle, but then on New Year’s Eve, I found another lump in the shower, on my surgery scar.
“I went back for a mammogram and scan and nothing could be seen, and I was told it must be scar tissue. But I insisted on a biopsy and it was then discovered that the triple negative cancer had come back.”
Mrs Glover had a mastectomy on one side in February 2019 but she had a fear it would return, so opted to have a double mastectomy in January last year.
She said: “I’d worn underwear with one prosthetic in it after my first mastectomy, but they felt so heavy – I felt like Mrs Doubtfire in the classic film – I couldn’t bear the weight of them. When I had the second mastectomy, I decided I was happy living flat-chested without a reconstruction. But it was frustrating as I couldn’t find any underwear that was both flat and feminine.
“So I contacted Kate who has a sewing machine, and asked her to make me a flat bra. So she did, and it was really pretty. I decided to try and help other women in the same position, who didn’t want a reconstruction yet were struggling to find pretty underwear for a flat chest.”
So the pair created the Skarlette – a flat bra – and launched as an underwear line. And they have recently launched their swimwear collection in July – the first flat lingerie and swimwear line in the UK.
She said: “The swimwear is gorgeous, and we hope that like the lingerie, it will give women confidence who have had mastectomies without a reconstruction.”
The lingerie and swimwear has been modelled by Mrs Glover and her two friends Jackie Wilson and Jo Carefoot, who have both battled through breast cancer themselves. They met whilst modelling on a catwalk event for Maggie’s – a centre that supports women through cancer.
A spokeswoman for Maggie’s said: “This underwear and swimwear range is exactly what is needed for women who have chosen not to have a reconstruction. It will help with their confidence and its great to see its launch in the UK.”
The underwear and swimwear range can be seen at www.theskarlette.co.uk