Swimsuits and No Boobs

Ah spring and summer! I love the longer days, the heat and humidity, everything blooming and green, being barefoot, and taking the kids to the pool and beach. And this year I have an extra appreciation for the warmth as I’ve waited all winter for it.

As we turn the corner to summer, I quickly realized what doesn’t mix… Swimsuits and no boobs! After a mastectomy, it’s not just a small chest, it’s really flat. Like super flat. That’s exactly what I wanted, no trace of breast tissue left. And I wouldn’t change it, but it has made some things more difficult. Like finding a swimsuit to fit. And honestly, me left wondering why I have to cover my chest anymore, other than protection from the sun. (I could step up on my giant soapbox about the over-sexualization of breasts in our culture and how ridiculous it is that women have to cover their breasts because ‘society says so’ – but I’ll save that for another day.)

Back to our story… Warm weather is here and I have two kids ready to go swimming. And absolutely none of the suits I have fit now. So I googled everything I could think of. There are swimsuits out there for mastectomy patients, but most of those are made specifically for prosthetics, which is a wonderful thing for many women. But here’s the thing, I chose a flat chest and I don’t want to wear a prosthetic just for swimming, because that seems like a strange thing to do if I’m not wearing them all the time. And I’m not hiding my flat chest. It is what it is and I hope that every time you see my flat chest, it reminds you to do your self breast exam, to make that appointment to get your mammogram (or remind your mother/sister/wife/partner/cousin/girlfriend/friend to do so) and to advocate for yourself if you find a lump in your breast or testicles or wherever!

Several folks recommended athletic fit swimwear, as it’s usually not gathered, lays flat and doesn’t include rounded cups for breasts. With still being sore across my chest and under my arms, plus not feeling like shopping, I ordered a few swim tops from Zappos and came to some conclusions.

First, I am pretty sure the Zappos warehouse is in our neighborhood, because I’ve never seen anything arrive at our house so fast! Second, athletic style tankinis and tank top style swim suit tops fit well, if I remove the cups. But even the band from the interior shelf bra hurts me right now. Third, a fitted rash guard works great! The material is a little thicker, there’s no need for me to wear a suit under it, it’s like wearing a t-shirt to the pool and I’m protected from the sun. Plus, there are super cute rash guards out there and I look like a surfer. Which I’m not, but planning on surf lessons soon!

The kids and I went to the pool today and I was totally comfortable in my rash guard top and my sun screened head (I’m still rather bald). I didn’t do any swimming – don’t quite have the energy for that yet! But for now it’s all about being comfortable. And to all you women out there worrying over how you look in a swimsuit… Don’t. You look beautiful in any swimsuit you wear. I promise.

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  • Reply Jean Nelson June 21, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    You are truly an inspiration Shannon. I am sure you are helping many young woman with your advice and attitude. There is so much fear of the unknown and I believe you are handling your situation perfectly.

  • Reply Jake wheeler May 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Shannon…I really love your posts and all your words about your experiences with your breast cancer journey. You are the light a lot of us need in our lives whenever things are going good or bad. You show that there r other ways to handle life changing events. My niece is a 19 year breast cancer survivor and she too has had some tough times … But she too has handled it with great strength and character. When I read your postings I see the same strength and courage Alison has shown for 19 years. God is certainly on your team….hugs to u and your family. J

    • Reply Shannon May 27, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you so much Jake! Hugs right back to you and your niece!

  • Reply Jenny Commins May 16, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    I really adore and admire and love and respect you. To rash guards, you’ve made lemonade once again and taught us all a lesson about, well – everything, in the process. xo

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