'Dear Boobs' the social project which has inspired many women

Must See 11/10/2018

It's Breast Cancer Awareness month - and for the 3300 people who are diagnosed in New Zealand every year, many may face the harsh reality of losing their breasts. 

Tauranga woman Emily Searle underwent a double mastectomy last year, six months after being diagnosed. 

After going through the trauma of chemotherapy, she was eager to have her breasts removed. 

"It was a physical separation of me and the cancer, so it was actually the part I was glad was going to happen," she says. 

However, as the surgery crept closer Searle found she was struggling to come to terms with losing her breasts - so she wrote them a letter. 

"Immediately [after] I'd written it, I felt the relief of moving on, moving forwards," she said.

The process of writing a letter helped her so much, she decided to put the call out on social media for letters from other women who'd also been through breast cancer. 

"I was inundated with letters, and that's when I really felt I needed to honour them and put them together in a book for others.'

That's how the 'Dear Boobs' project was born. It's a book filled with 100 letters from women who've lost their breasts - including Ms Searle's sister, Amy Bidois. 

She chose to have a double mastectomy after testing positive for the brca2 gene. Statistics show almost half of those who carry it will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.

"It can be trickier to talk about preventative mastectomy because you kind of feel like, 'Well I've not had cancer and they have'," Ms Bidois explained.

"But as my sister has taught me with the book, it's not about comparing journeys - it's just about personal journeys."

The book is now available online.

Ms Searle and Ms Bidois hope it will not only inspire women to write their own letters, but that it will help heal some of the nine people who're diagnosed with breast cancer each day.