My female freedom

Pien about Breastflower

"I honestly hope that women who have also undergone a mastectomy are soon able to celebrate life again."

On a cold winter day in 2019 I was approached by Kamroen Farzan regarding her inspirational Breastflower project.

I myself underwent a mastectomy already seven years ago, when I was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer after my first visit to the national population screening at the age of almost 52. Me … ?? A lady who didn't fit the risk profile at all: slim, tall, only a handful of years taking the contraceptive pill, four children who had all been breastfed for a long time, and very athletic. In my large family (mother, six aunts, twenty-five nieces) this illness only struck two aunts in old age and one niece at the age of 40.

As a doctor, I was suddenly forced into the role of patient. At the beginning, my interest in the medical element occupied central stage: ideally, I would have executed the surgery myself and looked through the microscope to see whether the tumour was indeed completely gone. In addition, I was busy with handling my absence at work: at least forty patients a day had to be unexpectedly taken care of by my colleagues. How would I be able to work, exercise and play music again afterwards? Nevertheless, I could quickly recognise the positive sides: how fortunate that the tumour was discovered in time and completely removed without additional treatment; what a funny sight it was when your swimming prosthesis bobbed along like a jellyfish in the water; how nice that an unknown lady at the sports club complimented me six weeks later because I wasn’t afraid to take a shower. What a lovely family and friends I have with a living room looking like a flower shop. There are many worse and more hopeless diseases, right?

It really bothered me that lingerie shops only sold prosthetic bras that reminded me of my grandmother (big, bleak, boring, stiff material). And … nowhere matching thongs for sale. Just large underpants. But … I'm not that old yet, right? My daughters were happy to receive all of my gorgeous lingerie sets and over time I managed to find some beautiful prosthetic sets after a long search, but those were only produced in very limited numbers.

When I first learned about Breastflower, it made me incredibly happy. Finally a female companion who, like me, didn't want to be squeezed into a box as a patient. No, a strong woman who wants to reinforce her health while staying down-to-earth. Kamroen gave me a nice white Breastflower to try out. It made me so happy. Why had no one figured out before that a piece of loss could be turned into a creative work of art that is worth to be seen? Breastflower made me smile to the mirror and made me even prouder of how I matter as a unique person. At times I would even forget to take the flower off at night, but nevertheless slept like a 'rose' without any irritation of my skin. I'm so looking forward to more beautiful designs and colours! And of course with matching beautiful panties/thongs in the future.

I sincerely hope that women who have also undergone a mastectomy are soon able to celebrate life again. The more we show the outside world that missing a breast can be turned into guts, fun and love through Breastflower, the more we realise that as women we still really matter.


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