As we all processed the uncomfortable realities of COVID-19 in early 2020, Rosie White faced an additional challenge.
On March 16, the 43-year-old Bradford, Ont., resident discovered a line underneath her right breast. At first glance, she assumed it was a mark from a tight-fitting bra, but her intuition nudged her to follow that line to its end. There, she found a hard, jagged, painless lump.
In the days and weeks that followed, White underwent tests and biopsies, which would lead to her diagnosis of Stage 1 breast cancer.
Rather than undergo radiation and chemo, White opted to have her right breast fully removed. It was a difficult decision to make but one that made sense to her.
Now, six months post-mastectomy, White is cancer-free and practicing a self-care regime to feel like her healthiest, most confident self.
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, stories like White’s are critical to share. According to Cancer.ca, an estimated 75 Canadian women, on average, would be diagnosed with breast cancer every day in 2020. And every day, 14 of those women would die from breast cancer.
Fortunately, I got the chance to interview White about breast cancer, her blog called A New Kinda Me, and her journey after being diagnosed. As a fellow fashion-lover, I was curious about how her style changed post-mastectomy.
Read Tania Tonello‘s exclusive interview with breast cancer survivor Rosie White on STYLE Canada below.
TT: What is A New Kinda Me?
RW: A New Kinda Me is my blog that evolved from my diagnosis and the loneliness I experienced after having breast cancer. It also speaks to the importance of sharing stories to empower, inspire, and help other women. My goal is to create a platform where women can share their stories, ask questions, find answers, and hopefully find a smile through the tears.
TT: What was the inspiration behind your t-shirts and what plans do you have for them?
RW: I see lots of cancer t-shirts and they tend to focus on how cancer takes something from you. My experience is that most cancer t-shirt slogans are birthed from a negative perspective, so I wanted to create one that showcases women’s beauty through this diagnosis. I plan to use the t-shirt sales to fund my blog, in the way of education and awareness. I would love to offer workshops and other events that will unite and inspire.
TT: Has your style changed since your mastectomy?
RW: I am definitely more conscious of what I put on post-surgery. Low cut tops are not happening. I also found swimsuits to be quite difficult throughout the summer. I mostly live in sports bras and baggy shirts. I try not to let my mastectomy dictate what I wear but it isn’t always easy. Most undergarments and clothing are unappealing to the younger generation of women being diagnosed with breast cancer.
TT: What are your favourite wardrobe pieces right now?
RW: I love my lululemon Align Bra because it’s comfortable and does not show an outline when I wear tight-fitting tops. Good hYOUman sweaters and tops are incredibly comfy and some of my favourites these days too. I also love Smash + Tess rompers, especially post-mastectomy because they’re loose and have pockets for drains.
SHOP IT: Smash + Tess, $119
TT: Where do you find your strength?
RW: I have always struggled with anxiety and I never thought I would be strong enough to face a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s a woman’s worst fear and because it was during the lockdown stage of COVID-19, I had to attend all appointments and surgery alone. I was forced to face my fears head-on and there is something very freeing about that. I’m also a big advocate of yoga, meditation, and anything that takes care of you – self-love and self-care are vital.
TT: Do you have any advice for people reading this, based on what you’ve gone through?
RW: No one is immune to breast cancer; it doesn’t discriminate. I strongly suggest doing monthly self-breast exams, attend yearly physicals, and listen to your body and intuition. I would also suggest making small but impactful changes today with food and exercise. It’s never too late to form new healthy habits. Lastly, be your own biggest advocate and remember that breast cancer doesn’t need to be a death sentence. Use your knowledge and experience to empower other women. We’re definitely in this together.