While dealing with the trauma of treatment as graciously as I could, I longed to go to a far-flung beach, lay on a sun lounger, and put the whole experience behind me, even if for a short while.
In fact, I wanted to take the fantasy even further; I promised myself that when the time came, and I had recovered from my mastectomy, I would go on holiday to Bali - to learn how to scuba dive!
My search for swimwear to wear on the beach for this special holiday, (and while scuba diving if I didn't lose my nerve!) brought an unfortunate reality. Of the limited collections of pocketed bikinis and swimsuits available from mastectomy specialists shops, high street stores, and online, none of them suited me. Here I was, a young woman used to wearing beautiful, fashionable swimwear, forced to choose from the dowdy, conservative choices I found.
Around 25% of women in the UK diagnosed with breast cancer are under 50. Sadly, this isn't currently reflected in the swimwear options the same women encounter. I struggled to find a lovely post-surgery bikini that expressed the stylish young woman I am.
This lead me speak with other women who had breast surgery or preventative mastectomies, in person and online forums, asking where they bought their swimwear. Too many women, of all ages, shared their stories of disappointment of seeking youthful, fashionable swimwear and coming away empty-handed. Or making do with unattractive, fit-for-purpose swimwear, which made them feel ancient.
Sadly, some went as far as to refuse to go on much-needed holidays or trips to the spa or pool. Some voiced feeling ashamed of their bodies when trying to wear their existing swimwear, much of which was too low under the arms or neckline, leaving their scars or their prosthesis showing
My sheer frustration with not finding what I needed motivated me to make my own pocketed bikini for my holiday! And it was such a positive feeling to have the confidence to walk down the beach in that bikini - and go on to earn my PADI open water diving certificate!
This deeply personal experience of this common problem inspired me to start designing swimwear specifically for women's needs after breast surgery and radiotherapy.
Clover Lewis Swimwear is a collection of high-quality, glamorous and comfortable swimwear that conceals breast imbalances, scarring, and radiation burns, all of which can leave women feeling vulnerable and exposed when thinking about swimming. These bikinis and swimsuits will support your return to the pool, or holiday or spa (or even your first scuba dive!), well-deserved activities to enjoy after experiencing breast surgery.
What makes Clover Lewis Swimwear different to other mastectomy swimwear brands?
Clover Lewis Swimwear is the UK’s first premium post surgery swimwear designed by a breast cancer survivor, and offer high quality, stylish designs and a feeling of glamour. Also, they cover up scarring and breast imbalances, creating a very natural appearance. Each piece is adjustable and customisable by the woman who wears it with or without breast forms or prostheses.
The label’s strapline ‘Look good outside, feel great inside' expresses how a woman can feel when swimming and lounging and is the foundation of the brand.
I'm humbled that my mastectomy designs have appeared in British Vogue (the first mastectomy brand to appear in 100-year publication!). We also won the UK Lingerie Awards' Post Surgery Brand of the Year' in our first year of business, (which is the equivalent of the Oscars)! It's important to open up the choices for women who've had breast surgery. I am pleased Clover Lewis Swimwear offers more choice for women who have had breast surgery.
Much more than just making a functional swimwear, we as a brand want to encourage pride and raise body confidence and self-esteem for women with lumpectomy, mastectomy, and those who choose not to reconstruct. It is a wonderful feeling, inspiring women to look good when out on the beach, or the pool, and subtly yet powerfully encourage their body acceptance. I feel it's empowering me too. It's my way of engaging and inspiring women in my community.