Runner, 50, who had a double mastectomy following a cancer diagnosis is taking on the London Marathon topless

A mastectomy mum becomes the first woman to run the London Marathon topless.

Louise Butcher, 50, often jogs around Braunton, Devon, with her top half uncovered to raise awareness of breast cancer and treatment for the disease after undergoing flat closure surgery in 2022.

The charity worker even completed a virtual London Marathon last year, but now she’s going to run the real thing today.

Running without a top has become ‘the norm’ for Louise and she plans to run the entire 26.2 mile route around the British capital without a T-shirt, rain or shine, in a bid to destigmatize her body.

Having previously worked in the music industry, Louise found that her self-worth depended on her appearance, but since her mastectomy she has strived to challenge this beauty standard.

Louise Butcher, 50, often runs around her Devon village topless to reduce the stigma surrounding the bodies of breast cancer survivors. This week she is preparing for the London Marathon

The mother of two underwent a mastectomy in 2022 after being diagnosed with lobular breast cancer in April 2022

The mother of two underwent a mastectomy in 2022 after being diagnosed with lobular breast cancer in April 2022

She said: ‘I’m so excited, I can’t imagine. I keep looking online for videos of the day from previous years.

‘I just think about the atmosphere, I never thought I would get there.

‘The topless thing is normal for me now; it hasn’t even crossed my mind, not in the slightest.

‘I ran topless every run for a year. I’m not going to think about that while I’m running; it’s my norm.

‘I feel much stronger and better than the others for this marathon.

β€œI ran my 20 miles on Monday and it was great and I felt like I could have continued.

‘I still get messages from women saying it makes them feel better. I know this is the right thing to do.”

Louise was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer in April 2022.

Louise discovered a lump in her breast by looking at it herself and the diagnosis was later confirmed by an ultrasound scan

Louise discovered a lump in her breast by looking at it herself and the diagnosis was later confirmed by an ultrasound scan

Louise previously completed a virtual London Marathon

Louise previously completed a virtual London Marathon

She discovered a lump in her breast and the diagnosis was confirmed by an ultrasound.

Louise refused to let the diagnosis or radiotherapy treatment hold her back and hopes to complete her latest challenge in less than five hours.

She said: ‘I’m aiming for four hours and 46 minutes, but with my training I think I can do it in 4 hours and 30 minutes – but you never know what will happen.

‘It’s amazing: there’s so much awareness around flat-close surgery and the whole aspect of women not having to put stuff back.

‘I don’t think there’s a better way to do that than running topless. With the Breast Cancer Now team we are active with 250 people.

‘I’ve trained so much in the cold and wet, so when it rains I’m used to it without a top.’

The London Marathon starts in Blackheath and runs past many of London’s famous sights.

On her reasoning for wanting to run topless, Louise said: ‘It was so dark in 2022 with the cancer, running topless didn’t feel brave, I felt like I had to do it.

The parent has been working hard to train for the notoriously strenuous marathon

The parent has been working hard to train for the notoriously strenuous marathon

WHAT IS A DOUBLE MASTECTOMY?

A double mastectomy is the removal of both breasts.

This is a way to treat breast cancer and is often done in women who are at high risk of the disease returning after treatment.

The treatment may also be suitable for women who cannot receive radiation therapy, have a tumor larger than 5 cm in diameter or have a mutation, such as in the BRCA gene, that increases the risk of cancer.

Most women stay in the hospital for one or two nights, but can resume normal activities in about four weeks.

Side effects may include pain, swelling, accumulation of blood or fluid at the surgical site, limited arm movement, and numbness in the chest or upper arm.

After surgery, some women may want to have the breast mound rebuilt to restore its appearance during breast reconstruction surgery.

Some patients may need other treatment after a mastectomy, such as radiation, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.

Source: American Cancer Society

‘When I first did it it wasn’t difficult, it just felt a bit strange, but now I don’t blink: it’s who I am now.

‘Before the diagnosis I ran once or twice a week, but six months before the diagnosis I started training for the virtual marathon and I haven’t stopped since.

‘It’s just about inspiring women to think positively about their bodies, even women who haven’t had breast cancer. We don’t have to be ashamed.

‘Many women who undergo reconstruction do so because they feel they want to fit into society. Some of them regret it and end up going bankrupt.

β€œIt has opened up the debate and perception of how society views breasts.”

You can support Louise’s fundraising campaign here.