Nikki Speer got the brilliant idea for her clothing line for breast cancer patients and survivors from her own experience with a double mastectomy and from watching her mother fight cancer.
Nikki’s mom, Ginni, battled breast cancer for ten years before she passed away in 2015 from the disease, and Nikki watched her struggle through it, calling her a “cancer thriver.”
Nikki’s aunts also suffered from breast cancer, so, knowing her family history would give her an increased chance of developing breast cancer, Nikki opted for a preventative double mastectomy before breast cancer could find her.
But whether the mastectomy is preventative or retroactive, it still has its downsides, as do all cancer treatments. Nikki came to the realization that breast cancer patients often had bodies that were not shaped the same as other bodies. Her mother had no breasts but had a large abdomen from chemotherapy, and her arms had swelled from lymphedema, all of which made it difficult for her to fit into most clothing. Other breast cancer patients have drains that have to be attached to their clothing after mastectomies.
“I just felt like we need to feel beautiful even when you’re coming out of surgery or coming home or [when] friends are coming to visit, people are bringing you meals,” she said. “A shirt, something that would hide your drains, that you would feel beautiful in and make you want to get dressed in the morning. After this surgery, that’s what I wanted to make sure these women felt when they put that on.”
Nikki’s clothing line, Redefined Courage, features soft fabric, flowy styles, and practical solutions for women who have been through breast cancer treatments.
The post-op mastectomy shirt has a button-up front, seams that won’t bother incision sites, and four pockets for drains. The chemotherapy shawl is half bamboo and half cotton, features large sleeve openings for access to ports, and is soft, warm, and fashionable.
“I don’t want cancer to define women,” says Nikki. Check out her beautiful designs and learn more about her touching story in the video below.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?