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Breast cancer survivor and Kiwi label to create mastectomy-friendly swimsuits

Newshub logoNewshub 11/07/2018 Wilhelmina Shrimpton
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A breast cancer survivor has teamed up with a New Zealand-based swimwear label to create mastectomy-friendly swimsuits.

Karin Horen has twice battled breast cancer. The first time she was just 26, the second time she was 40.

"I think actually the second time for me was harder because you think you know everything about it and you've done everything you could to save yourself."

Ms Horen had a partial mastectomy the first time around. But when her cancer came back in 2013 she made the call to have a double mastectomy, after finding out she carried the BRCA-1 gene mutation.

"In my heart I knew I was doing the right thing for my kids and my future," she said.

But Ms Horen says fighting the illness wasn't her only battle. She says it was also hard to come to terms with the toll it took on her body.

"And that was my biggest fear: how am I going to handle this?"

But she did.

"I can put a prosthesis on and wear almost everything - anything I want - and feel great because it's all (in your head)."

She wants other breast cancer survivors to realise that too, and to make it easier she's teamed up with Aurai Swimwear to make their swimwear mastectomy friendly.

"I want women to feel comfortable and confident, and that they can walk into a store and they don't need to feel different."

The swimsuits are appropriately branded "one of us" and Aurai swim designer Natalia Bertolo says any woman, mastectomy or not, can wear them.

"There's two layers of lining stitched. They are stitched together at the centre to ensure that the prosthesis doesn't move."

The opening to access the swimsuit's padding is also moved from under the bust to the side. It's simple changes that make all the difference.

"I really hope that we inspire other business to rethink their designs to make them more inclusive, not just for breast cancer, but for other disabilities."

There are seven designs about to go into production, and they'll all be shown off at New Zealand fashion week next month.

Karen Horen and Aurai Swimwear are crowd funding for the project.

You can contribute here.

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