So hands down I have most been looking forward to writing this post about my breast cancer journey! Why? Because amidst a hard diagnosis, tough decisions, surgeries and the long road to recovery, this is about a very light-hearted, fun, humorous and joyous celebration. My Boob-Voyage. What might you ask is a Boob-Voyage? It’s a farewell party for your boobs. A chance to say Bon Voyage to your boobs. Tata to your tatas.
I came across the concept on multiple blogs and even online periodicals. While it elicited a laugh, I did not have plans to participate. That is until I read a book – “Fight Back with Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears” by Margaret Feinberg.
I heard Margaret speak at MomCon (the Mothers of Preschoolers national convention) three year ago. She shared about her battle with breast cancer in her 30’s. At that time, my greatest take away was how best to support others in their battles. However, something brought her to my mind. Probably the fact she battled breast cancer in her 30’s (a relatively small minority) and wrote a book about it. That was enough motivation for me to buy her book.
Ok so, confession – when I say I “bought her book,” it was her audio book. I don’t normally buy audiobooks, but I knew it was the fastest way to “read” a book over the holidays. Let’s be honest Christmas break is crazy! Especially when you toss in three young children under 6 who are all off from school. Margaret read the book herself which was also amusing because it captured her humor and feisty personality.
My greatest take away from her book was that I needed to plan a Boob-Voyage. Not because she had one herself or even mentioned the idea. Rather she emphasized the importance of celebrating every chance you get when you are facing very difficult circumstances and battles in life. Celebrating every benchmark and step closer to your goal.
One of the ways she celebrated during her battle with breast cancer was to show up at the infusion clinic before her chemotherapy treatments with red balloons. She would then parade around the clinic passing out balloons to the patients. A way to encourage and congratulate them that they were about to be done with another infusion.
It didn’t make the infusion of chemotherapy less awful, but it brought joy to herself and others. It was her way of encouraging her fellow warriors. Acknowledging that they were doing something difficult. They were fighters. Survivors. A Boob-Voyage would be just that, a celebration amidst difficult circumstances.
Choosing to have a Boob-Voyage was the best pre-mastectomy decision I made! Planning a party in the month leading up to my mastectomy was a much-welcomed distraction. Without it I would have been solely focused on planning for my mastectomy. Trust me, a party is a much more fun endeavor!
I love planning parties too! I enjoy planning my kids’ birthday parties with their fun themes. I scour Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. My Boob-Voyage became such an event. I scoured the internet for ideas.
I recruited my mother-in-law to make a boob cake and cupcakes. We gave her cake decorating classes for Christmas a couple years in a row. Best gift ever! She is so talented and has made some amazing creations.
With only a month to squeeze in a party before my mastectomy I quickly devised a plan. I decided upon a girls’ night out, for the party. I spoke with my husband about a couple’s party, but we both felt like a girls’ night was more fitting. Even though he was jealous of the fun we would have without him.
I split my waiting time in half and set the party date right in the middle. Two weeks away and two weeks before my mastectomy. With little time, I opted for an online invitation sent to guests. My invitation read:
You are invited to put on pink and help Hillary celebrate a “Boob-Voyage!” This is not a pity party, it’s about giving cancer the boot. It’s a chance to celebrate, enjoy a girls’ night and laugh (boob humor welcome). So let’s say “Ta-Ta” to the “Tata’s” before Hillary’s double mastectomy. Light appetizers and “Boob” cake will be served. Feel free to order drinks and/or additional food on your own.
I chose a Mexican Restaurant for the location and made a reservation for 30 people.
The day of the party I pulled out a pink dress I had planned on wearing. I discovered a stain on my dry clean only dress. Am I the only one who has stuff like this happen? I made a last-minute decision to leave a little early and buy a pink dress at the mall on my way to the party. Luckily, I found a lot of options.
I picked up a pink boa and a pink ribbon balloon at the party store and headed to the restaurant. My mother and grandmother-in-laws were there when I arrived with the cake, cupcakes and pink decorations. The décor was low-key and minimal, but fun.
Thirty of my friends attended the party. None of us had been to a Boob-Voyage before. There was no set protocol for the party. Just food, fun, cake and a pink prickly pear margarita for me.
Gifts were not necessary (the thought hadn’t occurred to me), but some guests chose to bring them. Their thoughtfulness was truly overwhelming. Many of my friends researched gift ideas for mastectomy recovery. I felt overwhelmed by love and support.
The Boob cake was voluptuous to say the least. My friends were quick to comment on how beautiful the boob cake was, but the size was massive. I joked I had requested the cake be made to match my intended post-reconstruction goals. My friends teased back with – when is the reveal party?
The party for me embodied community at its very best. I was surrounded by “my tribe.” They were ready and willing to rally in any way possible. To support me on my journey ahead. Eager to let me know they were ready and willing to help in any way I needed. Meals. Car rides. Watching kids. Staying with me. They were all in.
Shortly thereafter, one of my friends posted an online meal sign-up for the three weeks following my double mastectomy. The sign-up filled up in 2 hours!!!! Friends emailed the organizer to ask how they could help since it was full, and they still wanted to help.
The party wasn’t about pity. It was about inviting “my tribe” into my breast cancer journey. They showed up with overwhelming love and support! I am still brought to tears over all they did to love on me, my family and my children this past year. I have the best friends in the world and I am so grateful for them!
If you are on your own breast cancer journey and contemplating a Boob-Voyage, do it! You will not regret it. Whether you invite 2 friends or 30, invite your friends into your journey. You have a rough road ahead. Take advantage of every opportunity to celebrate. You need a reprieve.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate either. I chose a restaurant because it required next to nothing from me. I could just show up and enjoy the party. Throw a Boob-Voyage! Trust me, you won’t regret it!