Breast cancer lesson number 59: Never underestimate the power of a good pair of knickers!

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Before my tummy became my boob, I had only ever bought one pair of magic knickers (by which I mean big, tight, figure-sucking Bridget Jones knickers not magical figure-adjusting knickers). I think it would be fair to say I had such limited success with the cycling-shorts-masquerading-as-underwear item, we had about one outing together. While it did eliminate certain troublesome areas from my waistline, it just repositioned them to both above and below said undergarment. Let’s just say, your typical body isn’t usually designed with a trunk that resembles the Scottish Highlands.

Having been briefed on the benefits of support knickers to help my tummy enjoy its new (if only temporary) life as an artificially-flat stomach, I approached my knicker shopping with some trepidation. These knickers are big and, if they are to be effective, don’t really have much wiggle room. They also tend to come in the imaginative black, nude and white range, meaning pink and navy don’t even get a look in (gap in the market methinks).

I must confess, I didn’t enjoy packing them in my hospital bag or putting them on at first (it took two of us to yank them up anywhere close to my stomach scar for the first five days). But, before I’d even left the safety of the hospital bay, my mum was already primed to pick up two more. Trusty old M&S. You know your underwear!

In the early days of my post-surgery recovery, the combination of big knickers and a body corset became a little bit too hot to handle (so much so, there were some rather unpleasant side effects. I will spare you the details). It felt more like a heat wrap than a support system and, in the end, the knickers had to go back to the drawer. With the corset firmly in retirement, however, the knickers are back in action and coming into their own. That is, when I remember to wear them.

The trouble is, when you have a lucky knicker drawer, it’s hard to get excited about pulling on a pair of nude cotton body suckers that don’t have quite the same effect. (Come on, I know you all have something lucky lurking in your drawers). It may sound odd, but I have knickers that have changed the course of a day by just being present. There is a priority list (mostly navy and pink) and, should one pair have to be recycled as a duster, the parting is like that of two good friends saying goodbye. My knickers have won pitches. My knickers have experienced great holidays. Of course, they didn’t prevent the cancer diagnosis, so maybe it is time to invest in some new ones!

Yesterday was a lucky knicker day – and it was a good day. It was also a day that introduced me to a quite unexpected nemesis: the stool. After an enjoyable session of work and a lunchtime visit from a good friend, I decided to brave the city centre for a meal. Aware of it being low immunity week (7-14 days after each cycle your white blood cell count is at its lowest), I diligently googled the restaurant and checked for illness in the group, before setting off on the train. (Duncan did point out that he was amused at my checking for illness, when I didn’t think twice about getting on a train, but I did argue that I would move if I spot a coughing commuter.)

On the chemo-related front all went well. Even the food was conveniently cut into small pieces, so the fact that I can still not open my mouth wide enough to eat anything larger than a cherry tomato, went largely unnoticed.

It was only after moving downstairs to the cosy bar area that it hit me. My scar had been rubbing against my jeans for a good few hours. While I look normal, beneath my clothes, my body is still hurting and crying out for a comfy sofa. It suddenly felt quite phased by the prospect of a stool. All I can say is beware the backless chair. It may not look menacing, but when your stomach muscles are still coming out of hibernation, sitting up straight is a workout. 

It wasn’t long before I started to feel quite naked without my magic knickers for company. It wasn’t long before I was back on the sofa, trapped back in my body suckers once more. I’m writing this with the black cotton tugging at my tummy, and I couldn’t be happier.

Next step is trying to turn a pair of these beauties into lucky knickers. Could a nude pair become my new pitch-winning panties? Bridget Jones would be proud.

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