So, as you probably know, I finally wrote and posted my first ever blog post last Saturday. It was a big, bold post…so, as you can imagine, I have had BIG, BOLD responses! There were two main reasons for that posting: firstly, to keep all my friends and loved ones in the loop and, secondly, to really take ownership of my choice within my own mind…and both were achieved FAR beyond any expectation.
In light of the first aim, well, I was completely blown away! Thank you, thank you...THANK YOU! I cannot say it enough. My humble, little blog reached close to 8,000 people over this last weekend! Wowzzah! I have received so many loving, supportive messages from such a vast array of people. So, from readers near and far, known and not-yet-met...I just want to express my appreciation, I feel such a huge sense of gratitude to you all. I absolutely loved hearing from you, please keep it coming! Seriously, thank you so, so much.
The second purpose was to make my talk a reality. I relate this to going on a big holiday (…just stick with me, it will make sense!). You know when you plan a trip, you choose the destination, book the flights, lock in the hotel and then you talk about the fact that you will be going for months...but, somehow it always feels like something you are ‘just talking about’. Then all of a sudden, before you know it, you are sitting on the plane, seatbelted in, about to take off and, yeah, then it is real. Well, this was exactly my experience after writing that blog post. I have been planning this surgery since August of last year…but it wasn’t until last weekend, putting it into words and getting all of your amazing responses, that I was actually ‘on the plane’…and it was tougher than I had imagined. I have spent all week in a crazy roller coaster of emotions…oscillating between feeling proud of my bravery and randomly bursting into tears. I think it wasn’t until this weekend that I realised that I am really scared. I am scared of the procedure, I am scared of the recovery, I am scared of what I am going to look like and I am scared of what this gene could possibly mean for my future, cancer. I started worrying about things that I have never even thought of before…the fact that I won’t be able to breastfeed (I have never felt maternal or been sure if I even want kids) or that I may feel disconnected with my new breasts, as part of me will soon be ‘not me’. My mind has been chaotic and all over the place! It might sound ridiculous, but in a way I feel as if I am going through a grieving process for my future loss...and, yes, it is challenging.
This made me reflect on a fitting farewell for my breasts. It was suggested to me by many readers that I should do something special to 'celebrate my breasts' before my surgery.
So, here goes:
Many of you will know that I have dabbled in burlesque over the last couple years and every time I have, it has been a completely empowering experience. Standing bare(-ish) on stage in front of an audience fills you with an overwhelming sense of body confidence and is a absolute celebration of your physique and your femininity. It is not 'stripping', it is 'showgirl'. Burlesque is theatre, it's cabaret. Burlesque encourages you to be fearless. It embraces you, your curves, and your slightly-less-than-perfect bits and makes you feel utterly fabulous in your skin - the perfect last hurrah for my breasts.
...And so, on Sunday the 11th of September, 2 days before my double mastectomy surgery, I will be giving a solo burlesque performance in London with THE CHEEK OF IT burlesque school…and I would absolutely LOVE you all to come and support me…in all my boob-alicious glory!
To book tickets (I mean it, I really would love EVERYONE to be there! Don't be shy!):
…And for those of you that can’t make it, I have decided to make this a ‘BURLESQUE FOR BRCA’ act, so you can all sponsor my performance! ...with all money raised will going to cancer research to help fund genetic cancer research in the future.
This might all sound crazy to you and I really hope that you do not think that by doing this I am making a serious oncological issue seem flippant. I totally understand the grim nature of this genetic mutation…trust me, I am living it. To me, this act is my personal way to feel proactive and empowered. To enable myself to take some control over the complex and emotional situation that I am in, through celebrating me, my body and, most importantly, my breasts.
So, thanks for all of your love and support...and thanks for reading!
Luv, Emma xx
It's nice to FINALLY meet you all!...I have been meaning to start this blog for months, but due to a little health glitch in my life I delayed writing...but I'll get to all that in a minute...
First, let me say THANKS! Thanks for following me and for all your love and messages along the way. They make me feel warm and fuzzy!... and for my new GJOTRock-ers, let me quickly introduce myself: My name is Emma Gabriel, I live in the glorious city of London with my little pooch Frankie. I am a certified health coach, a fully fledged yoga teacher, a model mentor and I am currently 1 year away from completing my 3 year diploma in naturopathic nutrition. It took me a long time to find my 'healthy' feet (I won't blether on with the details again, as you can check out my 'About Emma' webpage to know more) ...but now I'm here, in my world of healthy. I'm living my life mantra of HEALTHY WITH A HINT OF NAUGHTY...make no mistake, I don't claim to be perfect and I definitely still have my moments where that 'hint' can become more of 'big a dollop', but in general, I'm healthier, happier and more balanced than I have ever been.
So, enough of that, what's with the 'breast' talk, you say?! ...Well, this has been my, ahem, little health glitch. In August of last year I tested positive for the BRCA1 gene...the gene made famous by Angelina Jolie a few years ago. This gene increases my risk of contracting breast cancer by 65-80% and ups my chance of ovarian cancer by 40%....so, obviously it's NOT ideal. Don't worry, I have been tested and I am currently cancer-free, phew. However, after seeing many specialist, establishing my options and giving this all a lot of thought, I have chosen to have a double mastectomy now...and my ovaries removed when I am 40 (I am currently 35). I will discuss all my reasonings for these choices and more about the gene in a later blog post...but for now, I just wanted you to know, that this is happening. In fact, I specifically wanted to post this today, as my breast surgery is happening exactly one month from today. I am having a double prophylactic mastectomy on the 13th of September 2016. Yes, I am having both of my breasts removed...that is the first time I have written that down...and, wow, yeah, that makes it seem very real. It is a choice that I have made and it is a decision that I am comfortable with. I have received varied responses to this news from friends and family...but in the end it is my decision and I choose to be proactive with my body and my health.
I inherited this gene from the most courageous and inspiring woman on this planet, my gorgeous mum, Julia, who has undergone chemotherapy 3 times as a result of her having the BRCA1 gene. I feel grateful to have this knowledge of my own genetics, a knowledge which my mum did not have. Had she not have been diagnosed with cancer, I would never have known about my gene. So thank you, mum, for enabling me, so I can now choose to be proactive, and for demonstrating first hand how to be strong in times of adversity.
So, in this post, I wanted to introduce you to me...and to my breasts...and to let you know where we are at right now and what's been going on with us. To be honest, I had never really thought about my relationship with my breasts before all this. I had always just thought they were nice, small, well placed, normal....but when faced with a situation where you are told that you are going to lose them, well you start to think about what they mean to you. They are my boobs, they are part of my body, they are part of my femininity, my sexuality, they are part of me...and, yes, I am sad and scared to lose them. However, to me this is a no-brainer decision.
Over the next few weeks, as I lead up to my surgery and post-op, I will be keeping this blog, both as a cathartic exercise for myself and as a way for me to explain to you what it feels like to go through all this.
So, thanks for reading...pretty intense for a first blog post!
Chat again soon....
Love, Emma xx