How swimming can help those affected by cancer
17th August 2016
Ahead of the WomenOnly Swim on 4th September, Clover Lewis shares her story with us and describes how swimming has helped her come to terms with her diagnosis.
When I look back to November 2009, my life seemed great. My career was going brilliantly, and I was six months into a relationship with an absolutely wonderful man – I felt on top of the world. While giving him a hug one evening, I noticed a lump in my breast. It was found to be highly aggressive triple negative cancer. At that exact moment, my life completely transformed.
I made the difficult choice to have a mastectomy and reconstruction. During my treatment, I felt my self-confidence rapidly disappear. I felt isolated, as none of family or friends had faced breast cancer. My negative feelings were made worse by the changes to my body: I felt I could no longer wear the most of my clothes, and had to discard all of my lingerie and swimwear that I’d lovingly collected over the years.
During my treatment, I used the Breast Cancer Care Forum and also attended a Younger Women Together weekend. Through the charity, I met many women of all ages and backgrounds who shared my new reality, and I began to feel part of a community. With these women, I was able to share my experience of breast cancer – including my very real fears of a recurrence and mourning my lost body confidence. To them, nothing was trivial.
Even with my newfound support network, I struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis, my plummeting self-esteem, and the changes to my body, which all happened in such a short period.
In time, I learned how to dress for my new body, and plunged myself into swimming and active meditation. By engaging in these activities, I started to win back a feeling of control over my life, which cancer and treatment had taken away… I began to feel better about myself and my body.
With my growing confidence came the opportunity to see precisely where I wanted life to take me next. I believe that swimming is great activity that women like myself can do to regain and maintain fitness after diagnosis. I came up with the concept for Clover Lewis Swimwear, which recently won Post-Surgery Brand of the Year at the recent UK Lingerie Awards. My swimwear is made specially to support the needs of women after breast surgery or radiation treatment while helping them to feel able to get back in the water again.
It’s incredible to be able to help women feel and look great when they visit the pool. It’s my way of giving back.
Breast Cancer Care are the official charity of the WomenOnly Swim on 4th September at Dorney Lake. Distances of 750m, 1500m and 3km are available and it’s quick and easy to kickstart your fundraising. Simply click here to set up a JustGiving page!