If the cup fits ... the mastectomy lingerie with a feminine focus
Awoman who has been treated for breast cancer still wants to feel like a woman. Whether she has had a lumpectomy that has slightly altered the shape of her form, or more radical treatment that has seen her lose one or both breasts – on top of, perhaps, losing all of her hair – she still feels the need to keep a grip on her femininity.
Which is precisely why Angela Brown decided to specialise in mastectomy bras – and gorgeous ones at that – at her successful lingerie boutique in Hessle.
"In some places I have known, the mastectomy 'section' is this little place stuck away in a corner at the back," said Angela. "It already makes a woman feel she is being treated differently when she comes in for underwear."
At Serenity, Angela's shop in Hull Road, it is all upfront lace, delicate or more racy shades and gorgeous fabrics when it comes to the bras and knickers that are displayed all around.
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Contact: 01482 423152
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You wouldn't know that many of the bras have discreet pockets to take a prosthesis or padding to even out the wearer's figure.
"I remember my first mastectomy lady coming in and fitting her with a bra – she cried. She was so overwhelmed that she looked like she did before her surgery. When ladies look good, they feel better."
As well as being a trained mastectomy fitting consultant, as is colleague Jo Hall, Angela is eager to spread the message about breast care and properly fitted bras, whether her customers are cancer sufferers or not, and all the year round.
"I am always encouraging women to invest in their breasts," said Angela, who set up her business with daughter, Daisy, explaining a staggering 80 per cent of women are said to be wearing the wrong bra size.
She gives talks for groups and goes into schools to drive home the message about "good" and "bad" bras and, of course, the importance of regular breast-checking for anything unusual.
"A bad bra will cause 'double' boobs, wires digging in, grooves in your shoulders and straps falling down – as well as indigestion, stretch marks, saggy boobs, breast pain and neck ache," said Angela.
"A good bra will fit properly with the boobs sitting in the wires, a straight band and no bulging. You can look 5lb slimmer, have no more neck pain or grooves in your shoulders and your clothes will fit and look better.
"And your boobs will be back up north!"
Last week, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Serenity held a Think Pink fitting event, which saw customers offered 10 per cent off purchases, when fitted, and the shop making a donation from each sale to the charity.
The event was held in conjunction with lingerie brand Fantasie/Freya, through which Serenity was able to borrow a giant bra for its window display – this supersize undergarment, measuring about 4ft wide, appeared with Trinny and Susannah in their Undress The Nation series.
Ladies were also treated to all things pink – from "fizz" to cupcakes and a chance to enter a prize draw to win a set of lingerie.
During the whole of October, Serenity will also offer 10 per cent off a purchase with any bra donated to its bra recycling bin.
"The best of the donations will be sent to women in Third World countries," said Angela.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but Serenity promotes year-round awareness.
Angela invested in an expensive and realistic breast form that sits on the shop counter and provokes lots of comment.
"Ladies will say, I could do with some like that, but then I get them to feel it. They then realise they wouldn't want breasts like that at all, because the form has breast lumps in it."
Serenity gives out TLC – Touch Look and Check – cards with purchases, explaining about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and how women should check themselves.
These cards have been created by Breakthrough Breast Cancer to help encourage women to be breast aware.
Serenity is at 18 Hull Road, Hessle, HU13 0AH. Call 01482 641777. The boutique stocks bras in sizes 28 to 48, from an A to a K cup, plus year-round swimwear.