Zoë, Reduced But Not Diminished

For: Zoe Ley
Seattle, WA
Organizer: Zoe Ley
Zoë, Reduced But Not Diminished (Zoe Ley)
of $10,000 goal
100% Complete
Raised by 67 donors
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

Hello!  I'm Zoë, and I'm seeking financial assistance to help pay for a medical issue that is very personal: breast reduction surgery.

Breast reduction surgery is invasive and extensive, and it requires a great deal of recovery time, during which I'll need considerable assistance for most menial tasks, and general functioning is restricted to at least some degree even after that. 

Why I Need Breast Reduction Surgery

I spent years trying everything else I could think of, from custom corsets with back support to physical therapy and everything in between to avoid the surgery. Unfortunately, sometime in the year before last, the pain started to feel unmanageable, and I found myself reluctantly considering that a reduction might be inevitable whether I liked it or not. I started making inquiries about it a year ago, but, in my fear, still managed to hold off, telling myself I would get better.

The opposite has been true. My back pain has become so debilitating that I have given up on many routine activities and spend the majority of my time laying in bed trying to find ways to alleviate my discomfort. It has affected every area of my life, from my career and social life to my personal creative work and even general personal care.

Despite all my misgivings, by every measure the surgery is at this point overdue.  

I am ready to get on with my life, and I can not do so without this surgery. Getting it done now assures that I can resume work as a cellist by late September, when performances and teaching will pick up, and, frankly, that my life will not continue indefinitely to be ever more diminished by pain. I am asking for your help to move quickly through this process with as little difficulty as possible, and with high hopes for a positive result.

Why I Can't Depend on Health Insurance

Unfortunately, my health insurance plan limits me severely when it comes to choice of surgeons, and none of the ones available inspire a sense of confidence that they will be able to work closely with me to achieve a desirable result.

Furthermore, it also mandates the removal of a minimum amount of tissue that is significantly higher than what I would feel comfortable with, or what surgeons I have spoken to consider to be necessary and appropriate. I am hoping to retain my overall figure and body type by limiting the reduction amount to an appropriate level to eliminate the pain.  I have been told by multiple surgeons that this is possible, but only by surgeons experienced in specific types of reduction procedures and certified in both medical and aesthetic cosmetic surgery.

Given how serious this surgery and recovery period are and the ways in which it permanently alters an area of the body that is highly visible and linked closely to my feelings of gender, sexuality, and my identity in general, I feel that it is imperative that I see a surgeon who can meet my needs, address my concerns, and perform the operation with as much care for both the medical and aesthetic sides as possible.

After considerable research, I have found a surgeon who seems ideal, and have decided to move forward immediately, despite my own fear and the intimidating cost of going out-of-pocket.  

For more about why these considerations are so important to me, please read this post written on my blog about how having my body type has shaped my life since childhood and become part of my identity, and why it has been important to me to claim that and celebrate it, as well as encouraging other people to do the same: "On Looking Away"

What Your Contribution Helps Provide:

- $1000 is the cost of the surgery itself.

- Anything beyond the goal, will help with the numerous related expenses including:
  • Supplies for setting up my home to accommodate my extremely limited mobility after the procedure (I will have a very limited range of motion in my arms and upper body, so all needed items will need to be roughly chest height, and the bed will need to be set up to facilitate and help enforce the positions in which I will be able to sit and lie down).
  • Paying for at least some in-home care in the first week, as due to severe cardiac vasovagal reactions (sudden fainting spells during which my blood pressure and heart rate drop to dangerous levels) I will not be able to handle any of the wound care I need myself until I've healed a fair amount.
  • Cost of living expenses (food, housing, supplies for the recovery period, and other essentials), since it will be about six weeks till I am able to fully return to my work as a professional cellist and cello instructor; as you can imagine, playing the cello involves extensive arm and shoulder use, and of course the instrument itself sits against my chest.
I Need Your Help

This is the most terrifying thing I have ever had to do, but also one of the most necessary. I am trying to stay positive and look forward at the life I will build when I am no longer shackled to my bed by chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain, and anything you feel you can give will be appreciated more than I can say and will go a long way towards making this a less difficult time and making that future possible.

If you do not feel able to give but know of people who might, please share it with them on social media. Every bit of help counts - donations are what will make this happen, but your kind words and signal-boosting will help, too! 

There's a long, strange trip ahead, but I'll be standing up tall, scars and all, to meet you in better health on the other side.

Thank you so very much.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on July 18, 2017

Posted on July 18, 2017

I am bowled over by the amount of support I've been shown so far.  Truly.  I want to send thank you notes to everyone, and I'm sorry I have not done so yet, but... Just wow.  I feel so very lucky to have so much love from so many people.  It touches my heart.  Thank you.

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