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Cancer experience inspires fashion from Nottingham’s designers

Image source, Nottingham Trent University

Image caption, Ms Hodson was inspired to create the garments after her own struggle to find suitable clothing

  • Author, Miya Chahal
  • Role, BBC News, Nottingham

A student who survived cancer as a teenager has created a range of clothing items to support women with the disease.

Olivia Hodson, who studies fashion design at Nottingham Trent University, was inspired by her own struggle to find suitable clothes when she was ill.

The 25-year-old designed the items as part of her final year university project.

They are now on display at the university as part of the 2024 Graduate Festival.

Image source, Nottingham Trent University

Image caption, Mrs Hodson designed the items as part of her university training

Mrs Hodson was starting her first year of sixth form when she was diagnosed with blood cancer at the age of 16.

She had trouble finding comfortable clothes because they often pulled on medical devices and irritated her skin.

Clothes that didn’t cause her pain weren’t always fashionable or appropriate for her age group.

“When you think of clothing for people with cancer, you think of a headscarf, loungewear or pajamas,” she said.

“I wanted to change that image and make clothes that don’t make you stand out as someone who isn’t feeling well.

“My vision was to create clothes that people can wear in public and feel normal.”

Image source, Nottingham Trent University

Image caption, Her designs are intended to help manage the physical and psychological effects of cancer

Olivia’s clothing is designed for patients who have to wear medical equipment under their clothes for months.

They include a gown that is oversized to provide space for carrying peripherally inserted central catheter lines (PICC) so that chemotherapy can be delivered to the heart.

This also masks any weight fluctuations that a patient may be aware of.

A patient’s skin can become irritated after treatment, so she made all her pieces with bamboo fabric to prevent discomfort.

Ms Hodson’s entire range, which has been nominated for several university awards, is intended to be worn as daywear and is not intended solely for hospital appointments.

She said: “It would be great to see this type of clothing becoming more widely available.”

Senior lecturer Emma Prince said: “With one in two of us being diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime, these designs have the potential to improve the lives of thousands of women experiencing the challenges of this terrible disease.”

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