Life after breast cancer

Saying Yes To A Sexy Dress

A dress is just a dress, until it isn’t…

I remember the moment vividly.  I saw the dress hanging on the rack and couldn’t resist trying it on, even though it was riskier than my usual conservative style.  The plunging neckline would work best braless – something that my new, constantly perky breasts could pull off.  I tried it on and something happened that hadn’t since my cancer “journey” started – I stared at myself in the mirror, looked at my chest instead of avoiding it, and felt truly beautiful.  In that moment, I began to embrace my new breasts in a way that I hadn’t before.

Needless to say, I purchased it.  I had no idea if I would ever have the courage to wear it, but I had to have it even if it only ever served as a reminder of how I felt when I tried it on.

The epiphany and the dress made such an impact on me that I took a picture of myself in it and sent it to a few of my closest friends (sisters, really).  They had been a part of my cancer “journey” and could understand what a huge turning point this was.

Anyone who has an insecurity based on their appearance understands – you want to avoid showcasing what brings you discomfort.  The thing that makes you feel different and “other.”   Ironically, the very thing that made me embrace my breasts was setting them (a bit) free.  Focusing on that area and seeing the beauty.  Even with my one scar poking out slightly (the scar that is about half the width of my chest), I loved how I looked and that the scar showed because it was a symbol of my strength – a quality I was embracing.  I’m not sure if it was the scar or the neckline or the self-love – maybe all three – but damn, I felt sexy.

It’s a lesson that I’m sure is clear to many, but it hit me so clearly in that moment – stop hating what makes yourself different and the rest will fall into place.

I still have work to do concerning my breasts – there are times when I struggle.  But this dress played a huge part in helping me move forward and love my new self – scars and all.

Fast forward nearly two years. The dress sat in my closet the entire time. Tags on.

I recently celebrated my 33rd birthday (whoot!). The week leading up to my birthday was magical, as was the actual day.  I decided to put on the dress to take a few pics, fully expecting to change for dinner. I didn’t think I would have the courage to wear it out. But as I sat there waiting to leave, I didn’t want to take it off.  I felt beautiful, sexy and free. My mom sent some encouragement my way and I thought, do it. Keep it on. And I did. My boyfriend surprised me and attended dinner, which made me doubly glad that I kept on the extremely date-worthy dress. (See? Magical moments everywhere!)

33… I like you already.

*cue the unicorns*

Are you a young woman with breast cancer looking for community?
Join the Rethink Young Women’s Network for support, resources and advice.

Cassandra Umbriaco is a guest blogger for Rethink Breast Cancer. Since being diagnosed with stage two breast cancer at 28 years old, she combines her love of writing with a passion to help women affected by cancer. Check out her blog at  

Cassandra loves travelling as much as she can, dresses that twirl, anything Disney and her little red Fiat – Luna. 

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