By Alyce Collins
THIS BRAVE woman held a BOOB VOYAGE party before having a preventative double mastectomy after losing her mum to cancer, with party tokens including NIPPLE CUPCAKES and a breast cake.
Assistant buyer Samantha Webber (27) from Borehamwood, UK, found out she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene in January 2012, before losing her mother to ovarian cancer in July 2013, who was diagnosed in March 2009.
At the age of only 20, Samantha didn’t want to deal with the repercussions of preventative treatment, but by 2016 she felt ready to look into ways of preventing cancer as she began to look ahead to her future with her now husband, Toby.
Over the years, Samantha’s fear turned into courage and she looked into having a preventative mastectomy. Losing her mum was incredibly difficult for Samantha but seeing her battle cancer showed the bravery it takes to fight it. Samantha began picturing her own future, and the thought of not being around for her children was motivation enough.
Samantha was scheduled for a preventative double mastectomy on June 26, 2018. However, in the weeks before, Samantha and her aunt organised a ‘Boob Voyage’ party on June 3, 2018, to shine a positive light on what could have been very difficult.
The ‘Boob Voyage’ party was 20 of Samantha’s female friends and family, with each guest bringing food which was boob-related, including nipple cupcakes and a large cake shaped as breasts. Guests also wrote messages of support in a book for Samantha to treasure.
Samantha hopes to raise awareness for the BRCA1 gene and encourage more women to be proactive about getting tested. The fear of one day being diagnosed with breast cancer is gone from Samantha’s mind, and she wants other women to put their health first too.
“When I was almost 17, I moved to north west London with my mum and have never looked back since,” said Samantha.
“Unfortunately, not long after moving, we found out that my mum had advanced ovarian cancer.
“After a four-and-a-half-year battle she sadly passed away, but my incredible husband, family and friends have stood by me to help me get through.
“I now live with my wonderful husband Toby who is my absolute rock. He was there through mum’s illness, when we discovered I’d inherited the BRCA1 gene, the loss of mum, and many more obstacles.
“Losing a parent is unbearable pain, and the longer I’ve had to grieve the loss of my mum, it made me picture my future and how I would never want my children to feel this pain, and how I want to be around to watch them grow old.
“When I found out I had the BRCA1 gene it made me feel like I had two split personalities. Half of me was relieved because I knew that I would be watched like a hawk and hopefully would catch any kind of cancer if I was to ever have it very early.
“The other half of me was gutted, knowing that not only would I have to put myself through preventative operations, but also at the thought of potentially passing it on to my children in the future.
“At the time of finding out, I was only 20 years old. So initially I didn’t want to take any course of action. It wasn’t until the summer of 2016 when I made the decision that it was time to do something about it, and that decision was to have a mastectomy.
“When I realised what a blessing in disguise this really was, that I could take control and try to prevent myself from getting cancer, it was a no brainer.
“Considering I had so long to come to terms with my decision, I didn’t live in fear. And if I did ever get scared or worry, I just thought of my beautiful mum who was far more of a brave and courageous lady for what she had to go through, and that would take the fear away.
“I planned the date for the ‘Boob Voyage’ party and my auntie, who is basically like a mum to me, hosted it. I wanted to make the whole experience that I was about to go through more light-hearted and to have some fun, rather than getting sad. I wanted support around me.”
Samantha and her guests celebrated her choice to have a mastectomy to embrace the strength it takes and to encourage each other to be strong in the future.
Guests brought food, discussed their day to day lives and played games to take the fear away from a challenging few weeks for Samantha before her mastectomy on June 26, 2018. She now hopes to encourage more women to check their breasts and get genetic testing for the BRCA gene.
“There was endless sushi, salads, cake, biscuits, drinks – it was amazing. I asked everybody to get involved and have some fun by bringing a boob themed cake, and they did just that. There was food for days which was so yummy,” said Samantha.
“We chatted about everyday life to keep me distracted, but also played a couple of silly games, took lots of photos, ate endless food, and everybody signed a cushion and a little book for me, to show their support.
“My sister also did a speech which was sweet, and I just felt so showered with love and support.
“It was pure girl power as there was lots of support, laughing, and lots of love. The ‘Boob Voyage’ party was quite simply the best way to make what was about to happen a positive thing and lift my spirits before the big day.
“It made me feel like I will always have someone there for me and that there’s nothing I can’t achieve. It will always mean so much to me.
“Recovery from my mastectomy wasn’t easy at first, but again my incredible husband along with family and friends, went above and beyond to help me through it.
“They changed my drains, took me to and from hospital appointments, even bathed me and got me dressed. They were fantastic and I couldn’t have had the operation if I didn’t have that support system.
“Since I went back to work, I’ve been fine. The only thing in my life that has been affected is that I still can’t run, but that hasn’t stopped me from staying healthy and fit and enjoying my life. It’s minor in comparison to how little chance I have of now getting breast cancer.
“I don’t think there’s enough awareness about the BRCA gene, both types of it, and I don’t think women would even think to regularly check their breasts. We need to do far more to get the message out there regularly. Girls, get checking.
“You are stronger than you may think, and if you ever doubt yourself, then don’t. Be the beautiful and brave woman that you are and just go for it. It really was the best decision I’ve ever made.
“I used to have far more anxiety at the thought of developing breast cancer, but now that doesn’t happen. Your family and friends will support you, and you will come out on the other side even stronger than you already are.”
To see more, visit https://www.instagram.com/samiwebber/