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Pool Reverses Decision to Ban Breast Cancer Survivor from Swimming Topless -- So Why Is She Still Upset?


"It seemed like it was a reaction that it was just meant to appease me."

SEATTLE (The Blaze/AP) -- A Seattle breast cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy found it painful to wear a top when she swam at a city pool this summer. Jodi Jaecks asked if she could swim topless -- she now only has scars where her breasts used to be -- but the pool banned her from doing so. Outrage over the decision quickly sparked and the city's parks chief has since apologized and made a special exception for Jaecks to swim comfortably without a top.

(Related: Facebook deems photos of woman's mastectomy scar pornographic and removes them)

But the 47-year-old says she's still not happy and won't be swimming quite yet. Why?

"Initially when I heard about the reversal, I was elated. Then it came that it wasn't a policy change, it was just an exception for me. Then I was quite deflated. It seemed like it was a reaction that it was just meant to appease me," the 47-year-old said Thursday.

Jaecks wants to make sure her privilege is also extended to other breast cancer survivors who want to swim comfortably.

Watch this ABC News report covering Jaecks story:

Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams announced Wednesday that he was giving Jaecks an exception to the department's clothing policy.

"Our original concern stems from our responsibility to accommodate the needs of all our patrons. In this case, I see nothing that might alarm the public," Williams said in a statement. He was reacting to an article about Jaecks that was published in The Stranger weekly newspaper, which also ran a picture of her topless.

Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter said Thursday that Williams has decided to create a committee made up of cancer survivors, parks staff, King County health representatives and others to come up with a new policy.

Until a new policy is written, Williams will review on a case-by-case basis requests from people who have had surgery and want to swim.

After enduring two surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy and the surgical removal of both her breasts in March 2011, Jaecks wanted to turn to swimming to regain her strength. But swimsuit tops proved too uncomfortable, and nerves on her chest remained tender, Jaecks said.

So she asked the manager at her city pool if she could swim topless this past March. Eventually, she heard from the head of the aquatics department, who told her she couldn't.

"And that's when they said it was a policy that they required gender-appropriate clothing ... regardless if I had nipples or whatever," Jaecks said.

Potter said pool staff was following city policy. But she said it was "unfortunate" the issue didn't get to Williams' attention until now.

Jaecks hasn't swum topless yet. She told the Seattle Times that she doesn't plan to take a dip until until she meets with William's next week to discuss the dress code policy:

"I never would have fathomed that I would see such a huge reception to this issue," said Jaecks, who is still fighting for every woman with a double mastectomy — not just herself — to swim topless in Seattle's public pools. "But I'm excited about it because what started as a personal thing has become a bigger, political issue about awareness."


"I would like to think we could have a rational conversation about it," Jaecks said. "I can deal with the comments: I came out [as a lesbian] when I was 17. I've lived my life against the grain since I was young."

Jaecks said cancer patients shouldn't be made to feel self-conscious by asking for special permission.

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