Kelly Michaud, 26, a housekeeper from Harrogate, raised 10,000 pounds for an operation after years of back pain and unwelcome attention
It was a Saturday night in Harrogate and my friends and I went to a restaurant for the first time in ages. I’d spent an hour getting ready, excited, but when I got there and took off my coat, it happened again. Everyone stared. My heart sank.
After three lockdowns, I almost forgot what it felt like. But for as long as I can remember, every night out with friends – even dinners where I’m covered in a turtleneck – ends with the same unwanted attention and comments from strangers about my 34H boobs.
For years I’ve been asked the same questions: ‘Are your breasts real?’ ‘Can you prove that they are natural?’ I wear buttoned jackets and cardigans to hide them, and I’m afraid that summer will come when it’s hot and uncomfortable – but still better than the alternative. Men often grin, while some women appear intimidated. I do my best to ignore them, but I still feel upset and judged.
When I first hit puberty, my breasts developed gradually, but by 15 my bra size was 34E and I became the focus of the boys in school. “Oh, you did well,” they said. It made me hide I had always loved exercise, but soon I feared physical education.
As a teenager, I worked as a waitress and had to stand up for hours and carry heavy plates around the restaurant, which left me with terrible back pain. I’m petite by nature – 8 and 5 feet 2 inches tall – so my body struggled to support the weight of my chest (each chest is half a stone).
Buying clothes is also a nightmare. And I’ve never been able to wear pretty high street underwear; Instead, I go to specialized lingerie stores for my bras, which can be expensive and uncomfortable as they are heavily textured and leave sores.
Often times people tell me to consider myself lucky to have my character, but one of the people who understand the toll it takes is my current husband, James. We met in my late teens and were best friends before we got married. Whenever we book a vacation, he says: ‘Let’s go again!’ as I begin another epic search for a supportive swimsuit. But the sticking point came when our son Dylan was born four years ago.
After that, my breasts swelled into an H-cup and I found it impossible to sleep. It was terrible. Too confident to breastfeed in public, I was stuck inside for weeks. I also had physical therapy for my never ending back and shoulder pain.
I spoke to my GP about a breast reduction surgery and was devastated when the NHS turned me down. I pleaded for my case and filed a second application in 2019, but was rejected again. My GP suggested that I pay privately, but I couldn’t afford the £ 6,500 surgery fee plus the additional thousand for consultations and follow-up care.
I remember crying to James, feeling stuck and desperate. Then, in February, I read a story on Facebook about a woman who had been crowdfunded to raise money for an operation. Why didn’t I do the same?
That day I set up a GoFundMe page, set my goal of £ 10,000 and expected none of it, but within days I had received over a hundred donations. I was shocked. I achieved my goal within a month. A handful of idiots made nasty comments on the site, but I was impressed with the supportive comments from other women, some of whom admit they also fought in silence with big boobs and were too embarrassed to admit how uncomfortable it was.
Shortly after hitting my target out of the blue, I received an email from a cosmetic surgeon, Dan Marsh, who heard my story and offered to waive his surgery fees and operate at his clinic for free. I was over the moon. That meant that I could donate the money I crowdfunded to a good cause; I chose a breast cancer charity.
The operation is booked for September. It takes two and a half hours and after that I’m about a DD trophy. I could lose the feeling in my nipples forever, but it’s worth the risk.
I can’t wait for that first evening when my breasts aren’t the focus and the day my back pain subsides. I finally feel free.
As Lebby Eyres says