Rebecca Butcher is 20 years old, has Poland Syndrome, and wears Amoena breast forms. We are grateful to her for sharing her remarkable story of courage and individuality.
By Rebecca Butcher
I realised that my chest was "different" when I was in high school, looking around and seeing my classmates buying new bikinis and bras while I still had one breast left to grow. For a long time I even believed that for everyone, one breast grows faster than the other.
This is mostly because my doctors always told me, "You haven't finished growing yet," despite me having one fully grown breast.
So I waited and waited, sometimes hoping that one morning I might wake up and have a "normal" chest, but obviously that never happened.
After years of wondering, I decided enough is enough and I searched online "1 boob". I wouldn't recommend doing this yourself unless you're prepared to see some very strange images, but after some extensive research, what I found was Poland Syndrome.
I looked at medical photos and read stories of other women with this deformity and realised that they looked exactly like me (chest-wise).
I presented this to my doctors, most of whom hadn't even heard of this before since it's such an uncommon condition with so little known about it.
They all did their own research and finally agreed that this is what I have. And eventually, after visiting my doctors and showing them my chest numerous times they finally sent me to the hospital Breast Clinic. This is where I found Amoena.
I finally got used to the "wow" shocked noise that each new doctor would make every time I took off my shirt.
None of them seemed too scared or concerned that it could be something worse, and I trusted them (after all, they're the professionals!).
Solution: Wearing Amoena breast prostheses for Poland Syndrome
It was suggested that a "post-mastectomy bra" (which women who have lost breasts to cancer usually wear) would be the most helpful for my issue.
The breast doctor measured me and gave me what they called a "breast insert" made by Amoena. This insert looks like a breast, is the same colour and shape, can come in different skin colours and sizes, and can fit into any supportive bra.
I should add that these doctors also tried to convince me to have breast reconstructive surgery (that's a "boob job" to me and you), but I politely declined. Mostly because this is how I was born; it is me. It isn't making me physically ill. The only problems I have are finding comfortable swimwear and lingerie—and managing other people's opinions.
Being a teenager is hard enough, without people and the media telling you how you should look and what's "normal." But getting changed in a room in front of 30 other girls who have all hit puberty, trying to get teenage boys to notice that you exist without having large boobs, and being told by bra-measurers in department stores that "You're too young to wear a post-mastectomy bra, aren't you?" with a very judgmental face is not easy, I can tell you. But my Amoena insert made life a lot easier. I mean A LOT!
She wears Amoena now — and beautiful bras and tops
Now I could wear normal bras, tight shirts, bikinis, and nobody had to know that I didn't have two breasts. And when I say "I don't have two breasts," I don't mean that I have one breast straight in the middle of my chest, oh no. I do have two nipples, and my larger breast is in its regular place, just my affected side lacks size and muscle.
I should mention that Poland Syndrome can also affect both hands and feet, but I'm lucky enough to only have the deformity in my chest, which can be hidden.
Like anyone, girls with Poland Syndrome want to feel sexy and confident and show off some skin every now and then. Well, that's when it becomes difficult.
Even though I had my Amoena insert, my doctors were right and my "normal" breast still hadn't finished growing, so I had to go back to hospital and be re-measured quite a few times and given a larger insert.
Plus, not all swimsuits or non-underwired bras would support / hold in my insert.
Living out loud with Poland Syndrome and breast forms
Soon I was turning 18, leaving college, and my Instagram was starting to get more and more notice. I knew that eventually people would pick up on my different size chest and someone was bound to question why I was always wearing a turtleneck shirt.
So, I had the idea to post about my Poland Syndrome, and hoped that this might make other young girls who feel body-conscious, feel more confident and less worried that they don't look like the Photoshopped models in the magazines.
To my surprise, my post blew up with lots of likes and supportive comments and even many people finding me via the hashtag #polandsyndrome, telling me that they have it too. A few people who are in the public eye also came forward, and I won't give out anyone's name as it's something for them speak about once they're ready. But this gave me the confidence to buy a new swimsuit and not care that my chest was on full display.
My confidence aside, it was not meant to be... Since my affected side was not pushing against my larger breast to support it, the larger breast was falling out of my swimsuit any time I leant forward. I knew there had to be something better.
I remembered the name Amoena and searched their website to find so many beautiful bras and swimsuits and pyjamas. I thought that they were just made for people with breast cancer but I was 100% wrong! Their pocketed products work perfectly for me, they support my chest, are made from super comfortable materials and give me the chance to swim and wear lingerie without constantly checking and worrying that my boobs might have fallen out.
For me, finding Amoena is one of the most memorable turning points in my life, knowing that I can now live without worrying about my chest or constantly having to be on the hunt for bras that don't support me properly. And I might not have even found out about their brand if the NHS hadn't given me an insert for my bras.
Knowing that their brand can have the same affect for so many other young girls out there worrying about their chests and that they're able to provide the NHS with products to be given to those girls, is why I support and recommend Amoena to anyone and everyone! Even people with two completely normal breasts can wear their beautiful bikinis and comfortable bras. It’s also gratifying that one of my favourite swimwear styles helps charities such as the Future Dreams foundation. Some swimsuits are even designed by Melissa Odabash herself!
As my body changes in my 20s, 30s and onwards I know that Amoena is a brand that I can always turn to for support (literally).
Growing teenagers should be made to feel confident and happy with themselves and be able to choose what they feel is "normal," and that is why I choose Amoena.