50. Bras and big pants

On Wednesday 5th September a group of 9 women who’d all had breast cancer and one choreographer who hadn’t descended on Marks and Spencer’s Plymouth Branch. As mentioned in a previous blog the Executive Team had responded to my email to the CEO and were going to sponsor us by donating bras and big pants for the dancers.

The team met at 5.45pm and were signed into M&S.  It was very strange to be in the shop when it was closed.  Vicky and the team took us up to the Lingerie Department where they had laid on hand massage and nail painting with glasses of fizz, cake and nibbles.  We were all encouraged to look at the type of knickers – no one wanted anything brief… BIG was the order of the day!

The ladies at M&S were just wonderful, they were kind and help us make the right decisions about what to choose.  Vicky and Holly the managers were on hand – the fitters didn’t bat an eyelid when they saw the state of us without our tops on when the measured us.  We might have scars and lumps and bumps instead of proper boobs but they were the ultimate professionals.  Our choreographer was with us and had brought our music so once all fitted the M&S girls became our first audience.  They pushed away the racks of knickers and made a space for us… the music came on, we went into the dance routine!

The music we’d been rehearsing to was “I’m every woman” by Chaka Khan and it is really upbeat.  We danced in our new underwear and special dressing gowns as the dresses weren’t quite ready.  The M&S ladies cheered us on and clapped along.  Once the gowns were off we picked up our feathers and free styled until the part where Chaka sings “I’m everywoman 11 times” on the first that was our cue to get in line with out backs to the audience, feathers to the front and prepare to unhook the bar.  By the time the 10th “I’m everywoman” was sung, all bras were to be off then we had to turn swiftly and drop our heads as the music changed.

If you’ve seen the Greatest Showman and the Real Full Monty: Ladies night you will know that “This is me” is a really emotive song. The final part of the dance was to this song.  As I looked over my feathers I could see the M&S ladies crying – we finished the routine by holding the feathers high.  They cried, we cried, we put our dressing gowns back on and they hugged us.  Our choreographer had been spot on… the dance would bring the house down.  The M&S ladies kept saying how brave we were.  No, we’re not brave – bonkers maybe, it didn’t feel brave but it certainly felt very raw and emotional. We all hoped our real audience would be as receptive as these fabulous ladies.  Suddenly the ball felt very real.





Author: fionaosmaston

I live in Plymouth, Devon with my husband Nick and near my parents Sandy and Sheena. Our three children, Marcus, Phoebe and Miles are grown up. I am a geographer and love teaching Geography. My current role is as an Assistant Vice Principal in an inner city comprehensive school where I lead on coaching and initial teacher training. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma and following a skin sparing mastectomy and endrocrine/hormone treatment I am now awaiting a final reconstruction. These views are my own and writing this story has helped me come to terms with where I am in this interlude of life which has been dominated by breast cancer.

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