Harrogate leads the way in empowering women who have had a mastectomy

The M&S Harrogate team at their breast cancer support evening.
The M&S Harrogate team at their breast cancer support evening.

Rebuilding confidence and self-esteem can be one of the biggest challenges for women who have had a mastectomy, but M&S Harrogate and the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre have taken the hugely positive step of working together to empower women.

The team at the M&S store on Cambridge Street organised and hosted a special breast cancer support evening on November 14, inviting women who have been affected by cancer to enjoy a shopping event which aimed to make them feel good about themselves.

The store’s lingerie team, led by Lingerie Section Manager Katy Mole, were on hand to advise customers on their post-surgery bra range, offer specialist fittings, and give tips on dressing with confidence. Shoppers were also treated by the beauty team to complimentary hand massages and nail treatments to make them feel extra special.

Macmillan Patient Information, and Health and Well-being Manager from the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, Sarah Grant, was there on the night to support the event and talk about the fantastic work of the centre,

Speaking about the post-surgery bra range that M&S offers, Sarah said: "Being able to come into a normal environment to shop for an item of clothing instead of having to travel far to a specialist is really, really important.

"When somebody is diagnosed with cancer, they can feel as though there is a big label hanging over them, and if someone has to go to a specialist, it might make them feel even more ostracised.

"The biggest thing for patients is confidence, and having this range can give a real boost to their self-esteem. We promote the range at the centre and tell people what to expect when they arrive at M&S. All the staff are trained, and telling people what to expect is really important because it's often that fear of the unknown that can be a barrier."

Lingerie Section Manager Katy Mole, who organised the evening, said being able to buy mastectomy bras at a High Street retailer made all the difference to her mum who was diagnosed with cancer.

She said: "When my mum realised that M&S did them, it was a big deal to her, and it felt normal going in. Tonight at this event we want to empower ladies, make them feel good about themselves, and valued.

"We want them to feel pampered and special. And looking at the ladies here tonight sitting on tables together, hopefully they will feel that they are not alone - that there is a whole community that they are a part of."

Section Manager Sue Barclay, who helped Katy to organise the event, said: "A lot of our bra fitters have said that until they became fitters, they didn't realise just how many people it affects.

"The post-surgery bra range can make a big difference to people, sometimes you can see them coming out completely different people."

Trainee Commercial Manager at Marks & Spencer Harrogate, Adam Ellmore, said: “Our breast cancer support evening was a fantastic opportunity for those in the local community who may be affected by cancer to come in-store, enjoy a little pampering, and receive some respite, support and advice from both our lingerie team and the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre.

"With the superb work done by Katy Mole – Lingerie Section Manager – we hope the event made our customers who may have been affected by cancer feel really special."