A writer has revealed how her mother threw her a ‘goodbye party’ for her breasts ahead of undergoing a double mastectomy.
Hayley Minn, 27, from Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, decided to have the surgery after finding out she was a carrier of the deadly BRCA1 gene four years ago.
Making the decision to undergo the operation before turning 28, Hayley enjoyed a £350 ‘boob-themed’ afternoon tea after her mum Helen, 55, decided to see off her daughter’s breasts in style.
Hayley made the decision to undergo a double mastectomy before turning 28 despite being told to wait until she had children so she could breastfeed. She is having the operation today.
Scroll down for video
Hayley Minn, 27, (pictured with two friends at her ‘goodbye boobs’ party), from Hertfordshire, discovered she was a carrier of the deadly BRCA1 gene four years ago
Hayley’s grandmother Hannah Minn passed away from breast cancer aged 49 in 1970 and Hayley discovered her father Eliot is also a carrier in 2015. She tested positive for the gene four years ago.
Hollywood actress Angeline Jolie revealed in 2013 that she’d undergone a double mastectomy after revealing she carried the BRCA1 gene.
Ahead of the operation, Hayley’s mum Helen threw the £350 surprise bash on Sunday for 20 of her friends and family so they could celebrate the ‘boob job that will save her life’.
Activities at the party mammary gland farewell, held at the writer’s family home, included ‘pin the boobs on a poster’, ‘bra-pong’ and ‘boob casting’, in which a cast of her breasts were made as a memory.
Hayley’s grandmother Hannah Minn passed away from breast cancer aged 49 in 1970 – and her Dad is also a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, meaning she is 85 per cent more likely to get breast cancer
What is the BRCA gene and how does it affect people’s risk of cancer?
Having a mutated BRCA gene – as famously carried by Angelina Jolie – dramatically increases the chance a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, from 12 per cent to 90 per cent.
Between one in 800 and one in 1,000 women carry a BRCA gene mutation, which increases the chances of breast and ovarian cancer.
Both BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce proteins to suppress tumours. When these are mutated, DNA damage can be caused and cells are more likely to become cancerous.
The mutations are usually inherited and increase the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer significantly.
When a child has a parent who carries a mutation in one of these genes they have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutations.
About 1.3 per cent of women in the general population will develop ovarian cancer, this increase to 44 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation.
Hayley said: ‘When I found out I had the gene, I immediately knew I wanted the mastectomy.
‘I was told to wait until I was 30 and had started a family, but you don’t necessarily have to breastfeed – I’d rather my future children saw me grow old.
‘I never thought of it as a brave move – it’s just a boob job that will save my life.’
Hayley added that her mum went to the trouble of ‘sorting everything’ for her ‘boob hen do’.
‘I had asked her to arrange a tea for my friends as I wanted to see them all and have a good time with them, knowing I’d be in bed for at least six weeks after, and in pain for quite a while after.
‘I was so surprised by how much effort she had gone to, and it made me quite emotional being surrounded by her and my closest friends’ Hayley continued.
‘The party was meant to be a celebration of life, to make sure an operation like this doesn’t have to be a sad occasion’.
Describing the party, Hayley said: ‘We had afternoon tea with boob cakes and prosecco, huge inflatable boobs and played bra pong and pin the boobs.
‘There was also a book for people to write messages in, which I’ll be given it after the procedure.
Hayley first discovered her mum’s party efforts – a £350 ‘goodbye boobs’ afternoon tea – when she returned from a two-week trip to Sydney earlier in the year
Breast themed: Hayley had a cast of her boobs made during the party. She said: ‘It was all hands on deck with my friends rubbing Vaseline and plaster on to my breasts’
‘I even made a cast of my boobs using a plaster kit from the internet – it was all hands on deck with my friends rubbing Vaseline and plaster on my boobs. I wasn’t able to move for a good 40 minutes.
‘At the moment, the bust is in the kitchen, but one of my friends has offered to paint it and I’ll be putting it in my bedroom pride of place.
My dad feels guilty because he passed on the gene – he’d rather I didn’t have to go through this but he’s okay now…
She adds: ‘Being surrounded by my friends and having such a laugh made me feel very loved.
‘My family are really proud of me – my mum actually tried to do a speech at the party but was too emotional to speak.
‘Knowing how much people care and what a strong support system I have is really going to help me get through it.’
Shocked Hayley first discovered her mum’s party efforts when she returned from a two-week trip to Sydney, Australia earlier this year.
Hayley’s mum made boob cupcakes for the party as she served guests afternoon tea
Hayley couldn’t move for 40 minutes while she was wearing the cast – and was fed cake by her friends
After undergoing the four-hour operation to remove both breasts she will have a reconstruction to give her a replica of her own breasts.
She had initially planned to have the reconstruction in 2018 aged 26 but put it on hold after brother David died, aged 24, due to a fall while trekking in Argentina the same year.
The presence of the BRCA1 gene in her genetic makeup means Hayley is 85 per cent more likely to get breast cancer.
She said: ‘When my brother died, I couldn’t go through both of those things at the same time.
‘Despite making the decision two years ago, I feel as though it’s flown by. I realised how quickly time goes when my brother died.
‘I’m not scared about the surgery, I’ve planned well ahead for it but I’m not prepared for the pain afterwards.
Memory: The cast is currently sitting in Hayley’s kitchen – but once it is painted it will take pride of place in her room
Hayley sought comfort through a WhatsApp group with other women who are carriers of the same gene – she now hopes to inspire others to check their breasts regularly
The food at the mastectomy party was breast-themed – and Hayley and her pals played with giant inflatable boobs during the tea
‘I’m definitely getting a reconstruction – while I admire women who don’t get reconstruction, aesthetically I’m going to look similar but the only difference is I won’t be able to breastfeed.’
Hayley added she sought comfort through a WhatsApp group with other women who are carriers of the same gene.
And she is now a ‘Boob-ette’ for charity, Coppafeel! which involves carrying a lifesaving message to women, visit schools and colleges to represent Coppafeel! And to discuss their experiences with breast cancer as well as the importance of regular checking.
Hayley (pictured ice-skating) says she feels like an intruder in her Whatsapp group as she hasn’t had cancer herself
Hayley said she would advise women with the BRCA1 gene that it is ‘entirely up to them’ if they want to have a mastectomy (pictured the food served at the party)
But despite making friends through her diagnosis, she said she feels like ‘an intruder’ as she hasn’t been through cancer herself.
Hayley adds: ‘A lot of the girls have had cancer so they’re a huge inspiration to me. Most of them have now had a mastectomy.
‘My dad feels guilty because he passed on the gene – he’d rather I didn’t have to go through this but he’s okay now. At the time, I didn’t feel as though I could speak to him about it.
She says: ‘Now, I actually feel sorry for him because there’s a cast of my boobs in the middle of the kitchen.
‘I’d tell women who also have the gene that it’s entirely up to them but I think it’s the best thing you can do to reduce the risk of breast cancer. I’m personally 85 per cent more likely to suffer from breast cancer because I have the gene, so I’d rather get a mastectomy than go through chemotherapy.’