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In this second of four specials, the Embarrassing Illnesses doctors will be concerning themselves with breasts and all matters mammary. In an effort to encourage women to bring their breasts out into the open, they’ll be taking their medical expertise to the capital and setting up drop-in clinics in the East End and West End of London – in the imposing surroundings of Shoreditch town hall, and conveniently, in a bra shop in the heart of Covent Garden.
First through the clinic’s doors is a huge pair of double ‘J’ breasts, swiftly followed by 40-year-old Alyson. After 20-years of back pain and misery from carrying around a whopping 5 kilos on her chest, she is desperate to see if Dr Harper can reduce her burden by referring her for breast reduction surgery.
Former breast cancer sufferer, Cheryl, whose breast removal and problematic reconstructive surgery left her with only one breast, also visits the clinic to see Dr Jessen. Her mastectomy is a painful reminder of a part of her life she wants to leave behind. And now, two years on, she feels ready to try reconstructive surgery again.
Jacqui seeks Dr Harper’s advice about reshaping surgery for her deflated breasts and inverted, misaligned nipples. Now approaching the menopause, Jacqui’s breasts have started to sag. However, breast reduction surgery in her thirties means that her nipples have not quite succumbed to gravity in the same way, remaining artificially high.
Anna, whose once buoyant bosoms lost their fullness after childbirth and breast feeding, also visits Dr Harper to see if she can put some bounce back in her life. Anna has lost so much volume from her ‘C’ cup breasts that she is down to trainer-bra size. And with her dwindling chest now impinging on her relationship, she has finally been spurred into action.
On the subject of motherhood, Dr McKenna receives a visit at the Shoreditch clinic from a support group for British mothers who discuss how the long term benefits to mother and child from breastfeeding far outweigh short term discomforts. However, in Anna’s case, her breasts and her spirits are in need of an urgent lift.
Among the clinic’s many patients seeking breast reduction, reconstruction and reshaping, there is 22-year-old Keelie, who simply wants her breasts to be the same size. And after years of teasing and unhappiness, Keelie decides that surgery is the only option to correct her markedly mismatched asymmetric breasts. The procedure isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it’s surgery that will transform her life for the better.
Sometimes it’s simply the pursuit of bigger or more attractive breasts that can cause problems. Women seeking breast augmentation may be searching for a confidence boost, but sometimes the results leave a lot to be desired. It’s this that brings Ruth and Mina to the Covent Garden clinic in search of advice.
But it’s not just misshapen breasts that the doctors are presented with. The much-feared breast lump is also a prominent concern, which sees broadcaster Tracey Cox making a surprise visit to the Shoreditch clinic to get something off her chest. Meanwhile, Chloe visits the clinic to see if the doctors can actually remove something from her chest…a growth!
Unfortunately for men, women don’t have the monopoly on breast problems. In fact, having breasts at all is a big problem for a man, which is why Abdul Ahmed brings his man boobs to the clinic in the hope that they can be removed. Abdul might feel out of place attending a clinic dominated by women’s problems, but we’ll get to see the results of his consultation in Thursday’s programme, which is dedicated entirely to men.
To mark this ‘breast special’, Dr Jessen also dons a special suit (complete with fake breasts!) to show women in a London market exactly what to look for when checking their breasts for lumps. Women of the capital – there is nowhere to hide!
And don’t forget – you can watch our self-check guide about how to check your breasts by clicking here, or you can get the guide on your mobile phone by texting BOOBS to 84444…
The EB team would like to thank:
West London Clinic
Against Breast Cancer
Breakthrough Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Care
Breast Cancer Campaign
Cancer Research UK
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