Before I had my surgery, I knew that there would be questions from friends about the process. I have always been prepared to share my journey openly and honestly, with the unconditional support from my amazing husband of 15 years, Leigh. Leigh was the one who inspired me to finally keep a blog, so he’s been very understanding and supportive of the information I share, in the method I share it, pictures and all!! I will admit that he does momentarily ‘cringe’ every now and then at some of the things I share, and let’s face it, when your wife asks this question…….”How do you feel about me writing a blog about post bilateral mastectomy sex?”, you really are entitled to the odd cringe here and there.
(standby for a future blog on the ‘sex’ topic too, but I have promised ‘no pictures’ on that one!!).
So almost immediately when the blog was first announced online, I was thrilled to receive a call from a really great friend of mine who wanted to know some more information. With guaranteed anonymity, he has agreed to share in his own words, some very raw emotions and thoughts about this entire process from his perspective. It’s only natural that men feel very differently to women when it comes to ‘boobs’, so without generalising too much, I think it’s fair to say that most men at some stage in their lives ‘love’ boobs.
‘You’re removing your boobs?’
What really goes on in the mind of a man when his friend announces that she’s willingly going to have both of her breasts removed?
I hope you enjoy reading this guest blog as much as I did!
In his exact words…….
“As I’ve followed Yas and her journey so far, I wanted to put some words down on how I’ve felt about the whole situation. Perhaps more a blokes perspective on the whole thing, but let’s go back to the very beginning to when it all began.
The first time I heard of Yasmin’s journey, much like many others, was the launch of the Previvor page, I was puzzled but not surprised that Yas was once again taking on another challenge…….What was it going to be this time? Another Ironman? An Ultra Marathon? Massive seemingly unachievable fundraising targets?…….Nope..Yas had made the life altering decision to take ownership of her future by deciding to have a Bilateral Mastectomy. As a bloke, it dawned on me exactly what this meant….Yas was having her boobs removed? I felt my emotion well up inside. I was sad and fearful for her. I was sad that she had been faced with making this decision in what seemed to me to be so unfair. Yas gives everything to all those around her. Nothing too big an ask, no task too small. She is a rock for many people. All-in-all I WAS BUMMED.
I gathered my thoughts and decided to read through the blog gaining a better understanding or perhaps a more educated one, on exactly what was happening and why.
Now I’m a person who loves the grey area of life. I constantly have so many questions running through my mind and it’s a part of me I’ve learnt to thoroughly enjoy. So the questions that immediately started entering my mind went something like this….
- Am I going to lose my dear friend?
- Is there a risk?
- Is Leigh cool with this?
- How does this surgery happen?
- What happens to the nipple?
- Is she going to get big fake replacements?
Now please excuse me for some of those, but I am a man (not an excuse I swear). I immediately jumped on the phone to talk at length with Yas regarding all my questions.
You see, we all love Yas for being Yas. She’s an open book and was more than happy to answer all my questions, so as the conversation flowed, more and more questions came out. I left the conversation so overwhelmed with happiness for Yas. Inspired by a women with so much strength. The most important thing for Yas was to be around for the girls and Leigh. Now for me, on the surface that seemed like the best answer possible, but I started thinking about how she must be feeling deep down about exactly what was about to occur to her body?
We are all a little sensitive to varying degrees about how we look in the mirror and I had no doubt Yas would be too. For the life of me though I just couldn’t understand where she managed to gather the courage to put herself out there in the most public world of Facebook. Perhaps this is a question that many of us will never understand, as we would likely never ever put ourselves out there as Yas has.
Now as the weeks went by, and as the Previvor page was being updated on a regular basis, Yas was starting to post pictures of herself with less and less clothes on.
Now as her friend, I was feeling a little uncomfortable with each passing week, thinking “Is she really going to get her boobs out for all to see?” But why was I being so coy? What is it that makes me feel funny about seeing my friend’s boobs in the name of raising awareness? And what is it that makes a boob a boob? A strange question I know, but this is a conversation Yas and I had that I’ll get back to a little later on.
By this stage I was feeling really excited for Yas as her strength was infectious and poured out in her blog. Every photo, both pre and post of Yas has one thing in common….She always has a big beautiful smile on her face. Even after surgery she was still smiling with her half glass full attitude. With a focus on nutrition and being as fit as possible, Yas went into surgery in the best possible condition she could have hoped for……….and then we all held our breath.
Through the world of Facebook and thanks to Yasmin’s amazing husband Leigh, we were informed she was out and all was ok. PHEW! But wait, that’s not enough for Yas. The next thing we knew, there she was in all her post op glory, bandages and all with another photo. Looking like she had a hangover of endless proportions, Yas was clearly off with the fairies but as usual smiling none the less. In no time at all Yas was back on the blog reporting how great she was feeling and enviable photos of her amazing post op meals. No doubt aiding in a speedy recovery.
I, like most of Australia, had seen a few weeks earlier the outrageous nature of haters of the lovely women from Under the Red Dress Project. I was fearful and protective of my friend not wanting her to face the same trolls that have nothing better do with their time then hate on people from behind a keyboard.
This is the photo of Beth Whaanga, which caused controversy worldwide just 2 weeks before Yas had her surgery. Yas and Beth connected and became friends. Yas has since had her own Under the Red Dress Project photo shoot, where Yas will appear in her own before and after image to support the project. (Stay tuned for that one!)
Next thing I knew there was the Previvor update. I knew the photo was somewhere on the lower half of the page. I paused and like pulling a band-aid off quickly I scrolled down and there was Yas in all her post op glory. Yas even included a You Tube video of the big reveal, which can be viewed by clicking here.
Now, I’d seen some images earlier of women having been through the same surgery so I sort of knew what to expect, but this was different. This was my friend. The first thing I noticed when I watched the video was Yasmin’s smiling face again. Ever so happy, strong and vibrant. When I looked at Yasmin’s chest where her boobs once were, I felt relieved. Relieved that it was all over for her and her beautiful family. Relieved that I knew she’d be around for many years to come, relieved that she seemed in no pain at all.
I WAS HAPPY.
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do
As the weeks ticked by, Yas being Yas, soldiered on with a spring in her step and a skid of her scooter out and about raising awareness, being a mum, wife and business women. You just can’t keep a good woman down and Yas confidently returned to her beloved sport and friendship circle within Triathlon within a few weeks of surgery. My jaw dropped to the floor when I read this, but what an amazing woman.
Now lets talk about what makes a boob a boob?
I said earlier I have a mind that loves the grey area and this is one of those questions that Yas and I spoke about, which all started over Yasmin’s decision not to take the risk of saving her nipples. To me at first I’d never really thought about it, but then I asked myself if it really makes all that big a difference? I grew up in a household filled with women. I heard all the moans and groans from my sister and mum about having small boobs and not feeling great in ‘this or that’ dress which would look so much better with a full C.
So I get that women choose to have implants post op perhaps just to make them feel womanly again (although I’m sure it goes much deeper than that to a place men are yet to work out. I think its the same place that “no babe I don’t need any help” and in the next breath “why aren’t you helping” live).
Why is it that as a society we applaud a woman who looks beautiful in that red dress, but remove her clothes to reveal her boobs with no nipples and we turn like a pack of wolves? We revere women with ‘fake boobs’ and post op scars when the choice is made for cosmetic reasons, yet we don’t condone a woman with no nipples, implants and post op scars when making the choice to save her life. I JUST DON’T GET IT.
In that red dress they both look the same, but when naked, as a society we turn the cheek. So is it all about the Nipple? Is that what makes a boob a boob? I guess that’s a question that each individual will make for herself. One that only Yas can make for herself, one I’m sure will be had with her loving husband and family.
My overall opinion remains this….
How can we put those down that are brave enough to stand up and expose themselves for no greater purpose than to spark conversation, to make us stop and think, to raise awareness and the profile of a cancer’s taking the lives of those closest to us? To all the men and women making this life changing and challenging decision, I stand and applaud you.
Ladies, do your happy dance, wear the shit out of that red dress and strut your stuff like a super star because to your family and friends you truly are.
To my dear friend Yas, you are a star that shines brighter than any I know. You are an inspiration to your family and friends, a woman your daughter’s will admire. Thank you for being you and allowing us all into your life, to follow and grow with you along this journey.
You are loved a cherished by us all”
WOW! How do I top that? During the guest blog writing process, I must admit I was nervous as to what my male friend would write. As much as men claim to not understand women, it really does go back the same way with men. We have no idea what goes on in your minds most days, so I had no idea what to expect!
When I read his thoughts for the first time, I will admit I was nervous, but as I continued through each paragraph, I just wanted to give him a big, warm, bestie hug!! Seriously, how lucky am I to have friends that care for me this much?
All I can really do is say ‘thank you my beautiful friend’ for opening your heart and your mind with such raw and real truth.
While his name will remain unknown, he has shared this journey in a way that has helped me appreciate friendship deeper than ever before.
And by the way ladies….just for the record….his guest blog post has far exceeded mine when it comes to the ‘word count’, which just goes to show, men do love to communicate as much as we do!!
I thank you my dear friend. xxxx