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An - The choice to be as you are

The value of the moment

My name is An and I am 37 years old, married to a fantastic husband and a mother of four bright boys.

All was well until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2013.

The news came as a bombshell, and was extremely hard for everyone around me to deal with, not least because my mother had been diagnosed with the same thing the year before. The memories of that difficult time were still fresh in all our minds.

And now me … my children were eleven, eight, five and three at the time. I was told I had tumours in both breasts, and that I would have to undergo a double mastectomy. Not the easiest thing for a young woman to cope with.

Alongside my husband, my sister was a huge support during this time. She accompanied me to the hospital, asked the doctors exactly the right questions, waited patiently during all my examinations and wrote little poems to help cheer me up during my time in hospital after the operation. She looked after my children, cooked, ironed and did the shopping, while taking care of her own family at the same time.

I still remember very clearly the day the prosthetist, Lieve, visited me in hospital. She explained to me that I could wear a padded post-mastectomy bra for the first six weeks.

Not exactly the height of fashion, but it was a start. With a little patience, we soon managed to find the right size for me. The curve of my former breasts suddenly reappeared!

After these first six weeks I stopped wearing the padding, but at that time I was incredibly glad of it.

The prosthetist also gave me some brochures with breast forms and lingerie for women after breast surgery. 

Leafing through the pages, I blurted out: “Why can’t they show women without breasts? These models have nothing in common with me.” Then Lieve asked me if she could pass on my contact details to Anita. They needed occasional volunteers to model lingerie at fashion shows. I agreed on the spot.

My spell in hospital was followed by a rehabilitation phase. After six weeks, I bought my first breast forms and a bra from a specialist lingerie shop. I was surprised at how closely the breast forms resembled my real breasts, and thanks to a perfectly bra model you really can’t tell I’ve had both breasts amputated.

After all the difficult times across the previous few months that was a really positive moment for me. The next stage was a course of radiation therapy. I had completely underestimated how much this would take it out of me, as fatigue turned to constant exhaustion. During this time, Anita got in touch with me. We were immediately on the same wavelength, and I was soon asked whether I would like to take part in my first fashion show. Boy, was I nervous!

As a lecturer, I was used to standing in front of an audience, but this was quite a different thing. I found it very satisfying though: I could show my fellow sufferers that there’s no need to be ashamed of your appearance. Anita makes such attractive, high-quality lingerie products and swimwear that you feel every bit a woman again.

Since then, I have volunteered on a regular basis to model Anita products for other women in very different environments. I have modelled last year’s and this year’s collections several

times, and I think they’re stunning. There’s something for every woman here.

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