DMU Medical Forum aims to help breast cancer survivors

Breast cancer survivors, clinicians, fashion and intimate apparel brands and researchers are coming together to make a difference to the thousands of women – and men – diagnosed every year.

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has relaunched its DMU Medical Forum, created to understand the issues and challenges faced by patients post-surgery.

It is a national research group led by Gillian Proctor, an Associate Professor of Enterprise at DMU and herself a breast cancer survivor.

THUMB forum pic

Gillian, who has previously designed for Armani and Versace and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK Lingerie Awards, said: “People think that once you have the surgery and the cancer tumours removed, that’s it. What they do not realise is the effect it has upon your wellbeing, your self esteem and the different needs that you will have post- surgery because your body no longer looks or acts the same and you feel differently towards it."

The DMU Medical Forum aims to work together sharing time, knowledge and resources to help improve lingerie/swimwear and activewear options for women (and men) through research and development and sponsored projects. DMU students as well as technical experts from the university’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Humanities and HLS will join forces.

The Medical Forum has already invested in a bonding machine for Contour Fashion which means that seamless garments can be designed which can often aggravate surgical sites on the body. It has also bought post-surgery swimwear, lingerie and prosthetics for further study and to create a database of the options available to patients currently.

forum 2       forum 1

The Forum was originally launched in 2019 but had to pause its work when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. This meeting brought together lingerie brands and manufacturers, designers, patients, clinical specialists – including consultant Jaroslaw Krupa, head of the Breast Care & Oconoplasty Unit at Glenfield Hospital - and breast cancer charities who are all determined to make a difference.

Gillian added: “My dream would be for every single bra and swimwear company, to include two or three styles for post-surgery as a matter of course with each collection projected. It should be available for every woman as a matter of course who has had to undergo this life- changing surgery.

“To know that it’s still seen as a niche given the number of people who are undergoing surgery every year is just wrong. There needs to be far more consideration and more availability of styles, colours and fabrics. These women are not freaks, they are everyday people like your sister, mother, daughter, friend and are entitled to that consideration."

Monica Harrington runs ‘Fit, Form and Function’, and ambassador for Future Dreams breast cancer charity is a fit specialist for women post-surgery working with Guy’s Hospital in London. She said: “Every lady is different and the options for bras are still not as wide as they should be. The industry needs to do better for women because low confidence, poor self esteem is a huge part of their journey.”

Gillian added: "Initially we launched the Forum to address breast cancer concerns for women (and now) for men also. Moving forwards the intent is to widen accessibility to a breadth of additional medical concerns; Disability sportswear, scarring, burns, osteoporosis, arthritis, scoliosis, etc. This side of the industry is prevalent and growing apace."

Anyone requiring information or wishing to become involved in the Medical Forum, should contact the Principal Investigator, Gillian Proctor on

Posted on Tuesday 16 May 2023

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