‘Boob voyage’ raises $7.5k

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Khellsey-Anna Atley organised a fundraiser to help cover costs of her breast reduction surgery. Photo: Luisa Girao

AFTER years of being bullied and suffering from low self-esteem, a young Invercargill woman is determined to have her life back.

For Khellsey-Anna Atley that means a bilateral breast reduction.

The 22-year-old nursing student has struggled with her large breasts since she was a teenager and was a size 18F.

“The kids bullied me at school and started to call me tissues. They thought I was putting tissues in my bra to make my boobs look bigger, which is ridiculous.”

The problem was far beyond the bullying by her school friends.

With tears in her eyes, she said her breasts caused her chronic pain. “The upper and lower back is curving. Sometimes it’s causing so much pain that I can’t do anything.”

At 16, she saw a doctor for an evaluation for a breast reduction. However, they advised her against the procedure as she was young and this could affect her future as a mother, saying she might not breastfeed.

Years later – and now a size 18H – she had not changed her desire to feel “like a normal girl again”.

Mrs Atley returned to the doctor and, this time, they said she was the perfect candidate for a breast reduction. But for her to be able to have the surgery, she would need to lose 20 kilograms and pay $20,000 for the procedure.

The first one was completed with no problems, but the second would be a challenge.

She looked for public funding but because of high numbers on the public waiting list, was told there would be no funding left for her in the public sector.

“My doctor said I could wait years until I have the approval. This problem already hurt me so much physically and emotionally, that I can’t wait any longer. This is not cosmetic, not born through vanity or the want to look good. This is a very serious health problem, causing me a lot of pain.”

So, with the help of her friend Rhonda Hoffman, they organised a fundraising show to help raise funds.

The “Khellsey-Anna’s Boob Voyage” gathered local musicians performing at the Ascot Hotel last weekend.

“It is more than fundraising. Probably everyone has a friend or someone they know who has the same problem. People need to start to talk about it. That is most important.”

Mrs Atley raised $7500 and has an internet page where people can contribute.

Ministry of Health said there were 73 patients waiting for a breast reduction at the end of February 2019 and there were 313 publicly funded non-acute breast reduction procedures completed in New Zealand last year.

Southern DHB surgical services and radiology medical director surgical, Stephen Packer, said the board attempted to make fair decisions about access to service, saying health resources were limited and needed to be prioritised.

“Patients referred for any service are prioritised against others referred to that service, and in this case it will include those requiring mastectomy and reconstructions as part of breast cancer treatments.”

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