Sunday, 22 July 2012

Monument to my breasts

I had a very special day today- feel like it was the beginning of the process of saying goodbye to my boobs.

I made a plaster cast of my chest. 

Well I had several people do it for me, as I sat still on a stool in my kitchen sipping champagne with 3 of my very closest girlfriends and my daughter on Skype.

An incredibly empowering experience.

As usual there is a bit of a story to how this came about.

About 4 weeks ago I received an email from Kerrie,who runs an amazing organisation called the groundswell project, inviting me to one of her Busting Cancer workshops. The invite was both a professional and personal invite.

I first met Kerrie about 4 years ago when I was working at CanTeen - the Australian organisation for young people living with cancer (not the school canteen) I was writing the third in a series of books for young people dealing with cancer, this one was for bereaved young people.
The first one I wrote in the series was for young people who have a parent diagnosed with cancer*. Yes it is all very twilight zone, too interconnected, and all that weird shit. 

Anyway Kerrie was working for an organisation that supported families to care for people who wanted to die at home. No it isn't morbid dealing in this area - it is just part of life - and I chatted with her about issues that impacted on young people

Fast forward to about May this year and Kerrie and I connected again. She had started the groundswell project and I was working in the area of young adults and survivorship. She had run a number of Busting Cancer workshops where women came together to make plaster casts of their bodies, at various stages of their cancer experiences. We discussed the possibility of targeting young adult cancer survivors.
I was fascinated by the project.

 I had always regretted that I didn't do anything to have a record of what my breast looked look liked before my first breast surgery. OK I admit I was in denial about that whole thing.

Being a bit slack on the email reply, and the fact that it was on the 29th July and SL (Partner. Remember he was mentioned in a previous blog and there will be more written about him as we continue on this little trip and I think he will need to get a better code name) was going to be here, I hadn't made up my mind if I would go.

Well circumstances now made it not possible for me to go on the 29th.

But I decided that this time I really wanted to do something before I went in for surgery.

So I emailed Kerrie with the news that the 29th wasn't really going work out for me  but could she tell me what I needed to get as I had a crafty friend who could do it  and I was thinking of inviting my close girlfriends over to drink champagne and make a cast.

She sent back the reply that she would be honoured to come out and do it for me.

So that is how I came to be sitting, sipping champagne with my friends and daughter as my chest was covered in plaster.

It is a an unusual feeling. First you cover yourself in Vaseline - wow what a beautiful shine that gives - and then the strips  of plaster are layered onto your skin. Just like if you are having a cast for a broken limb. It feels a  bit cold.

Now each of my girlfriends played a role. M was the art director and the champagne giver, D got in and got dirty actually helping Kerrie do the plastering, all the while  talking in arty speak and N was in charge of holding the laptop so my daughter could be part of it on Skye

We even got my nearly 80 year old Mum on Skype in Perth so she could also be a part of it.

 Once it is all layered on - and the temptation to do a bit of cosmetic plastering is avoided - the cast slips off and voila you have a plaster cast of your chest.

The whole thing took about 40 minutes.

The cast now has to dry and once that happens I will decide how, or if, I want to decorate it.

It really was a very special experience, and one I would recommend to women and men  who are faced with the prospect of having any body changing surgery. ( although not sure that all body parts are suitable for the plaster cast treatment)

I really want to thank Kerrie for making this happen and to my 3 gorgeous girlfriends  for being part of it.

Please check out the groundswell project and all the amazing work they do

I now have a permanent monument to my two saggy boobs. 
Actually they look quite good if I say so myself. 

* If you are reading this and you are living with cancer and  have children between the ages of 12-24  check out the
Now What...? series of books for young people. ( and I will put in a disclaimer here  that I did write them)


  1. Was so special to be a part of it. Thanks N for your excellent laptop holding abilities.
    They definitely looked pretty good from where I was sitting, maybe even as good as mine x x x

  2. Awesome P! Truly awesome.
    And I have read and recommended those books. Now I can lean in and whisper conspiratorially that I 'know the author'.

  3. An inspiring story. I hope your cast is a treasured memento to your cancer journey.

  4. Aren't you going to post a photo??