The Dear Boobs Project is racing ahead of me, the letters are flooding in, women are sharing and shedding tears, the support of individuals and organisations is flowing, the word is out. The world is preparing to receive a book, full of intimate, courageous, and sometimes hilarious boob wisdom, addressed on every single page to “Dear Boobs…”.

Woah…. Time to sit, time to write, time to reflect, at last.

At 37 years old, with no prior experience of writing, publishing or fundraising, and after of 10 months treatment for breast cancer I launched a project. A project that would require all of the above skills, in hindsight maybe the drugs were still affecting my brain!

Believe me, I’m not one for taking risks, for aiming too high, for putting myself into situations where I have little experience or skill, or where I might actually fail! However, being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at 36 changes a couple of things. After 10 months of intense treatment including 7 biopsies, 4 scans, 59 blood tests, 147 medical appointments, 2 emergency admissions, 26 weeks of chemotherapy, 2 surgeries, 4 scars, 21 doctors and 30 radiation treatments I was ready to do things a little differently.

I thought The Dear Boobs Project would be a great way to facilitate healing in those like me, and a perfectly slowly paced purpose to my ongoing recovery. But my project to create a book of Dear Boobs letters from women who had had breast surgery due to cancer has captured an astoundingly significant audience over an extremely short period of time. I certainly thought that the sharing of boob wisdom was somehow missing from my journey with breast cancer, and would have helped my healing, but it seems many others would agree.

The Dear Boobs Project has reached over 42,000 people on social media in 100 days. I have 82 Dear Boobs letters in my inbox. I have also recently secured a small amount of funding, which I hope gets the ball rolling, as I embark upon a goal of delivering 1,000 copies of the complete Dear Boobs book to waiting room tables across New Zealand next year.

So here it is The Dear Boobs Project, a book of letters addressed entirely to women’s wobbly womanly parts to share wisdom, inspire healing, and celebrating the incredible breast cancer community. I hope that as the reader delves into “Dear Boobs….” they will not only feel that they are in great company, but that their own relationship with their breasts, boobs, tatas, lady lumps, bosoms, whatever they call theirs, really does matter. Dear Boobs will make people laugh, perhaps cry, but mostly grasp their own experience better, and feel the hope and healing power of being part of a sisterhood that understands how it is. Carers and supporters will be able to gain a unique insight into the hard decisions, the emotional complexity involved in letting go of a body part or two, and the sometimes-long road to a new normal.

My journey continues, as it does for all those who have had breast cancer. I have more surgery to come, daily drugs, and medical appointments most weeks. I am, of course, glad to be out of the intense storm of treatment, but in recovery the challenges continue as I adjust and learn how to move forward, after cancer. And we are evolving together with The Dear Boobs Projects.

Both my original and new boobs have received their own letters. Letters that that were the inspiration for the project many, many, months before I realised it was a thing. As my breast surgery date came closer, and after a little ignoring and much agonising over why I was feeling so low and sad about losing my floppy, uneven, cancer-filled breast, and its partner, I wrote to them and I have never looked back. My healing progressed and the reason why I was the one with the breast cancer gained a little more clarity.

“Dear Boobs,

Thank you for being the ‘front of house’ in a way to represent my femininity, and for shaping my clothes; my school ball gowns, my bikinis, my wedding dress…and wow, your work was only just beginning. My thank you can be no greater than the gratitude I have to you for nurturing and nourishing my 2 children. I see the incredible results of this Every. Single. Day.”

“So, as we share our final weeks, you have already dealt with the toxic chemical aimed at you and next will be the scalpel, please know that the time we have had together has been perfect. It has been exactly how it should have been, you raised my children with me and you guided me to learn about myself without me even realizing it. You covered my heart space and that is no coincidence. Dear Boobs, our time has come to be parted, it is the right time, it will be forever, but I will never forget.”

For those keen to assist with funding, sponsorship and the costs of publishing and distributing the Dear Boobs books, please also contact Emily on [email protected]

Dear Boobs letters can be sent to Emily Searle: [email protected]

The Dear Boobs Facebook page: thedearboobsproject