Dear Anthem

Dear Anthem,Woman-with-back-pain

I have been in constant pain for two years, due to my breasts. When I first went in for my gastric sleeve surgery, I had 44DDD-sized breasts on a 315 lb frame. I now have 38G breasts on a 210 lb frame. The additional pressure on a smaller frame causes me no end of discomfort, pain, inconvenience and has even impacted me financially.

My daily activities are limited by the pain caused by my breasts. My back, neck and shoulders cause me constant agony, meaning that I can only maintain certain positions for a few hours at a time. For example, I have great difficulty typing on my laptop, which I do for a living, for an extended period of time. I am also unable to scrapbook, one of my favorite hobbies, for long periods because sitting and leaning becomes too painful.

I accepted a position at a store last year and due to the physical exhaustion caused by the agony of my over-sized breasts, I had to go from full-time to part-time. A huge financial burden on me and affected my relationship with my supervisors as I was not able to complete the job that I was hired to do. I was unable to work 37 hours per week, doing lifting, climbing stairs and stocking, all while wearing colonial costume, because of how much pain I was in. Women three times my age were and still are working full-time positions at this store. But at 28, I was unable to complete these tasks.

My methods of exercising are now incredibly limited. I find myself exhausted and in too much pain to complete any workout. I can’t find effective and inexpensive sports bras in my size. Due to the motions of my unsupported breasts, in order to not experience chronic pain, I would literally have to hold my breasts while working out. I used to swim and workout regularly at the YMCA and now, all I can manage to do is light walking without being sore and enduring chronic pain for days after. An entire day of light walking is enough to leave me in enough pain that I have to lay down immediately because of how intense the strain is on my whole body.

When it comes to purchasing clothing, my breasts cause me a huge disadvantage. I cannot wear fitted shirts as my breasts are too large. Standard clothing in my size does not fit me appropriately because my breasts distort the fit of the clothing. Finding bras that provide adequate support is also extremely difficult. I have to buy bras that are two or three times as expensive as more common-sized bras because those are the only ones that fit me. With my ability to work limited by my breasts, this means that I am constantly wearing bras that don’t fit or are too worn out to support me properly, leading to only more pain.

I have already exhausted other existing options. In order to cope with my breasts, I have done therapeutic massage, gone to physical therapy, done posture exercises on my own, and taken pain medication. Nothing has given me prolonged relief. I cannot afford to regularly see specialists for these problems when the relief I get only lasts a few days, if that. Pain medication has had a very negative effect on my health, with the side effects being too intrusive on my life for me to stay on them long-term. I also have a history of overdosing on pain medication and feel uncomfortable using pain medication as a long-term solution for chronic pain.

There is no doubt in my mind that my pain is caused by my over-sized breasts and that by reducing my breasts, my pain and mobility problems will stop. I have no major health problems, no family history of health problems that would cause back, neck and shoulder pain, and multiple doctors have agreed that there is no reason for me to be in this much agony except for the fact that my breasts are too large. Also, with over 100 lbs of weight loss there is no reason to logically think that more would shrink my breasts. Furthermore, for me to lose the last 25-30 lbs to reach my goal weight, I need to be able to exercise, something which I cannot do right now.

Without this breast reduction, I see my life continuing to be unmanageable and my future work options limited by my inability to do physical work. In this economy, this is not a luxury that I can afford. Beyond having my work impacted and my daily life marked with constant pain, my research has shown me that this pain can cause permanent damage to my body that will require surgeries, medication, specialist visits and continued care, far beyond what would be required for a breast reduction. I therefore believe that a breast reduction will allow me to lead a normal life.


Star Verity LaBranche

Result: Claim denied.

My new insurance policy does not include any kind of breast reduction other than one needed to remove cancer.

Want to do something to help? Contribute to my GoFundMe page and help me pay for the surgery that will relieve my pain.