Featherston breast cancer survivor Sandie Fletcher, left, donating a copy of ‘Dear Boobs’ to Kim Siemonek at the Wairarapa Women’s Centre. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
An inspiring book of 100 letters from breast cancer survivors to their boobs features heartfelt letters from three of Wairarapa’s own.
The book ‘Dear Boobs’ was started by Emily Searle, a 38-year-old breast cancer survivor from Tauranga who wrote a letter to her breasts while struggling with the prospect of her imminent double mastectomy.
The cathartic action led to her reaching out on social media, asking other breast cancer survivors to join her in writing a letter to their boobs.
“Throughout my treatment, I was supported by a community of incredible women whose wisdom I had come to treasure,” Searle said. “I wanted to get the message out there that shared ‘boob’ wisdom really can make a difference and to share the healing effect I had experienced when I wrote to my own boobs.”
Within 100 days, Searle had received 100 Dear Boobs letters from as far away as the UK, Ireland, USA, Puerto Rico and Australia.
Featherston’s Sandie Fletcher had the honour of distributing some of the 1000 donated copies of the book to places such as the Wairarapa Women’s Centre and the Featherston Public Library.
Fletcher was one of the three Wairarapa women to have their own Dear Boobs letters featured in the book.
Although she had been living in Featherston for nearly a decade, Fletcher completely underestimated the power of community relationships until she discovered a lump in her breast at age 45.
In 2014, she underwent a single mastectomy followed by years of chemotherapy and radiation treatment which she had to travel to Wellington for.
The reaction and support from the community was overwhelming – from people making meals and cleaning her house to Adamsons Service Station donating petrol vouchers.
“It really taught me a lot about how communities work,” she said.
“Cancer is a real bastard, but it does have a silver lining.”
She heard about the Dear Boobs project from a friend and decided to send a letter in.
“I had written stuff down at the time that I didn’t want to talk about but needed to get out.
“I wrote the letter and sent it off and it felt amazing.”
She said the letters could be quite intense to read yet healing at the same time.
“The emotions and feelings are all the same, but they come out in different ways.”
Wairarapa Women’s Centre co-ordinator Kim Siemonek was extremely surprised when Fletcher turned up with a copy of the book last week.
“We’re very lucky to get it,” she said.
“I was so overwhelmed I forgot to get her to sign it.”
Siemonek said the book will be proudly displayed at the centre, which supports and empowers women throughout their varying journeys.
Copies of the book can be purchased at Take Note Carterton or online at: thedearboobsproject.com. Part of the proceeds from each sale will fund further distribution.
Workplaces across the country can do their part to raise awareness and funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation by dressing in pink for a day before the end of this month. Information can be found online at the Breast Cancer Foundation website, under ‘How you can help’ , click ‘Get involved’.