We invited a group of women who’ve had breast cancer surgery to tell us how we can develop our post-surgery clothing range. Charlotte Ratcliffe from our George womenswear team writes about the day...

We're looking to expand our range of post-surgery bras, nightwear and swimwear, so we wanted to hear directly from people who’ve been affected by breast cancer and who know what will make a difference in the products we provide.

Working with our stores and the Tickled Pink charities Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now we invited a group of 11 women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are at various different stages of their treatment to join us for the afternoon so we could show them what’s in our range, tell them what we’re working on, and get their feedback on what else we could do to help.

It’s been eye-opening – a real privilege – and we all feel we’ve got a real opportunity to make a difference to anyone who’s going through treatment or who’s been through surgery in the past.

We didn't want to make assumptions about what women affected by breast cancer need and want from our range, but feel so passionately that we should do our bit by listening carefully to these women, and offering a collection which makes them feel good, at an accessible price point.

It's been both useful and moving to be able to talk openly with women who were able to tell us exactly what they wanted, and what they don’t, from our post-surgery collection.

There's been some really valuable feedback about things like the width of bra bands, positioning of bra straps, seams and labels, as well as things like more styles, raised necklines and UV protection on swimwear, and offering wrap fronts and cooling fabrics for nightwear.

I think it’s really important to hear about aspects of medical treatment that we might not fully understand, like drains and scars, and other lasting effects, so that we can take the personal experiences and insights people are sharing with us and apply it to our range to help find solutions.

Hearing so many anecdotal experiences has given us lots to think about and I’m really grateful to everyone for giving their time and sharing their thoughts with us.

The main thing that I’ve heard from people is that having a cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to lose your style.

So I’m taking that as our mission to expand the range and make life easier so that when you’re going through breast cancer treatment you at least don’t have to worry about these clothing essentials. If you’re a lacy girl you should be able to buy a lacy post-surgery bra – and you shouldn’t have to pay over the odds for it.

We won’t charge any more for our post-surgery range. I passionately believe you shouldn’t have to pay more for something that’s a necessity.

Breast cancer isn’t something that just affects one age group, so we’ll be looking to expand the breadth of our range to embrace a broader customer profile and appeal to the wide range of ladies who this affects.

It makes me feel incredibly proud that we could play a small part in making somebody feel better about themselves at such a challenging time.

Our post-surgery collection is exclusively available online. Take a look at it here. We do that deliberately so that we can have close control over stock levels and ensure people get the sizes they need when they need them. It’s convenient too – you can click and collect at your local store and it’s easier for returns – and it means we can keep more stock available and are less likely to disappoint people than would be the case if the range was distributed across all our stores.

We’re aiming to expand our post-surgery collection in time for this year’s Tickled Pink campaign for Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now later this year, and I’ll keep you posted on progress.