Model stretching with hands up in the air over her head
How Fitness Helped Me Find Self Love After My Mastectomy

How Fitness Helped Me Find Self Love After My Mastectomy

Dana Donofree
4 min read

Healing from your double mastectomy can feel like a marathon. It takes perseverance, grit and the ability to believe in your body to do the extraordinary. 

Breast cancer previvor,  Paige More, knows firsthand how truly difficult it can be to not just lose your strength. After undergoing her preventative bilateral mastectomy in January 2017, she struggled with self-confidence as she slowly but surely worked to build her body back up to her pre-mastectomy strength. If you are struggling with your self-confidence, and doubting your ability to build back your strength, endurance and self-confidence after your mastectomy, keep reading for Paige’s inspiring, raw insight into what helped her, and how long it has taken her to achieve her goals.  

Should I Workout Before My Double Mastectomy?

Not everyone has time to train for their mastectomy. For some people, especially those who are diagnosed with aggressive forms of breast cancer there is no time or opportunity for fitness prep before surgery day. However, if time does allow for it, others have found that training for their mastectomies is empowering and cathartic. Paige had the ability to train for her double mastectomy, and admits it was the best thing she could have done to prepare for the removal of her breasts, “I always encourage people to train for their surgery if they have the time or ability. Not only did it prepare my body for surgery, but it also gave me a healthy outlet to channel all of my anxiety about my surgery into. It was good for me mentally, physically and emotionally.”  

Paige recalls asking her doctor before her surgery how she could best prepare for it. “I asked him if there were certain parts of my body I should strengthen beforehand, and when she told me ‘no,’ I didn’t believe it. I just couldn’t accept that strengthening my body wouldn’t help me heal from my surgery faster. So instead of listening to that doctor, I got in the best shape of my life and trained up until the day of my surgery.” 

Model laying down with bra being the focus of the image

How Long Until I Can Work Out After My Double Mastectomy?

Paige remembers her doctor telling her “that raising my arms over my head could take months to do after my surgery. In response, I lifted my arms over my head and said, ‘I can do that already’. Working out before my surgery helped me gain back the basic movements so much faster that my doctor was shocked.”

Although getting moving after surgery was easier than her doctor had projected, Paige remembers being extremely discouraged otherwise. “For me, post-surgery was devastating, because I went from being the strongest I’ve ever been in my life, to immediately losing all of my strength. But even though I wasn’t as strong after my surgery, I was still able to do all the activities I loved doing before, like snowboarding and surfing. I began slowly regaining my strength and confidence first by just being active and by going outside and moving my body in the ways I could.” 

Models after a workout in workout clothes up against a brick wall

How Do I Start Working Out Post Mastectomy? 

Everybody’s body is different, and we always recommend that you listen to your medical professional. Before you begin any kind of exercise post-surgery we encourage you to speak to your medical team about the saftest kind of physical activity you can engage in. Take the time to request a referral to a physical therapist who can help you get started with post-surgical friendly workouts. We know how important body movement can be in the healing process, which is why we encourage you to challenge yourself in the gentlest ways possible. Incorporating a movement routine into your healing process will empower you and slowly begin to help you build your strength. Just remember to be extra patient with yourself: 

“After my final exchange surgery, it took a year to get back into shape,” Paige says, “I was gentle with myself, and reminded myself, ‘I’m the same as I was before, and this is a newer version of myself I have the privilege of growing into. I’m more proud of my body than ever before because of the work I’ve had to put into it.” 

Model stretching on a yoga mat


Most Comfortable Post-Mastectomy Sports Bra 

For most people getting dressed for a workout is the first step to getting your body moving. Getting ready prepares your mind, and gets you in the zone and ready to take on your goals. “I feel like getting dressed is half the battle and once you are dressed, you feel good. But if you don’t even feel good in getting dressed, you’re not going to feel good in doing a workout,” says Paige. 

That is the exact reason why we created The Paige Sports Bra (named after our previvor muse, of course). The Paige is all about style and comfort in the gym, on a run, in yoga and beyond. Designed with a cool wrap-front design detail, this uber comfortable bra was designed for our fitness previvors, survivors and thrivers in mind. This ultra soft, super comfortable pocketed sports bra offers medium support to your foobs all while providing relief to your sensitive surgical areas. The mesh back provides extra breathability all while making you feel sexy and cool during your workout. Wear it to yoga, while biking, walking, or while circuit training at the gym! No matter if you have two boobs, one boob, no boobs, or foobs, this mastectomy sports bra will help you take on any workout after your breast surgery!  

Model stretching with hands up in the air

“I’m grateful for these sports bras,  because post surgery it was so hard to find a sports bra that actually felt good against my foobs and surgical areas. There’s nothing worse than getting ready for the gym and being uncomfortable. I know that people will love this bra post-surgery because this is EXACTLY what i was looking for and couldn’t find. I’m just so happy it finally exists!” -Paige More 

Dana Donofree
Dana Donofree

Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.