By Neil Shaw
An art gallery curator with size K breasts that constantly ‘knock things over’ is desperate to raise £15,000 for a reduction – as her breasts won’t stop growing. Araba Banson suffers with such agonising back pain that she claims she’s regularly bed-ridden and struggles to breathe due to the crushing weight of her chest.
The 24-year-old pays £120 every two months on new sturdy bras to accommodate her ever-expanding chest and says she only gets relief at night when she’s able to heave them to the side. Araba, who didn’t wear a bra until she was 19 when her breasts ‘suddenly grew’, suffers with painful rashes and spots and sometimes even struggles to even breathe while laying down.
After allegedly being repeatedly turned away by doctors who tell her to lose weight before she can have any NHS surgery, 15-stone Araba almost gave up on her breast reduction dreams. But 5ft 7 Araba, who previously loved playing sports, said the final straw was when she went on a rowing machine at the gym in May and couldn’t move her legs due to suffering slipped discs in her back.
Temporarily stuck in a wheelchair and fearful that her mobility would be further compromised in future, Araba launched a fundraising page in the hope of getting the operation done privately. Araba said: “I didn’t always have large breasts, they started growing randomly when I was 19.
“One day I woke up and my boobs just kept growing. [Before then] I didn’t even wear a bra. My first bra was a D cup. They just started growing very rapidly and they’ve been growing ever since.
“This [started] when I went to university so throughout this whole time I’ve just been having problems with my back, which has been very frustrating. The way they grow now, every couple of months I notice they’re bigger and I need to get a bigger bra.
“Right now, I wear a 34K but my boobs are coming out of the bra so that’s an indication that I need a bigger one. I can’t afford a bigger one [so] I’ll wear this until I can.”
Araba first approached her doctor in late 2019 to see if she could get a reduction on the NHS due to the pain and discomfort caused by her chest. But she claims every time she went, and during subsequent visits to her GP since 2021, she’s simply told to lose weight before she could be considered for the surgery.
Araba said: “I’ve been to the doctors quite a few times, every doctor I’ve seen has advised me to lose weight so that my BMI will fit the criteria. I used to live in Aberdeen, where I went to uni, and went a few times because I kept finding lumps in my breasts and they were getting really big.
“Other times I was going because of a back and shoulder pain and the fact that they were just too big. Now I’ve moved back to London, I’ve been back to my GP quite a few times, but every time I’ve just been dismissed about this problem.
“I was told because of my weight that they won’t consider it so then I started trying to lose weight and got injured. Recently I went to the doctor in London about it and he just came back with a straight ‘no’ because of my weight.
“I tried to argue that my breasts are causing the excess weight and again it was a ‘no’. I went back again as I recently had a slipped disc in my back that the weight of my breasts really don’t help at all, they just prescribed me physiotherapy.
“[The last time] I saw a GP and I did mention that I wanted a breast reduction and they asked me ‘are you sure?’ That was really awkward for me – of course I’m sure.”
Araba said that not only does she suffer from back and shoulder pain, but she also has trouble breathing, is sometimes bed bound and also regularly bumps into things with her cumbersome chest. Araba said: “I struggle breathing because my boobs are just on me – I have such a weight on my chest.
“When I’m lying down in bed it’s easier to breathe because I can lift them to the side. It’s really affected my posture, my neck is now kind of bent and my shoulders are hunched forward.
“I have to pull them back and when I pull them back the weight of my breasts pulls me forward again. I suffer from rashes underneath my breasts and I get loads of spots.
“I’m bed-ridden quite often, maybe three times a year. It’s quite hard for me because I love being active and doing things. I regularly bump into things and knock them over in the house. It’s a very small thing but it’s very frustrating.”
Despite the physical setbacks Araba, who’s forced to wear baggy clothes to accommodate her large chest, still tries to do some form of exercise for the sake of her health. Araba said: “Sport is something that definitely keeps me grounded.
“I try to exercise because it just makes me feel good about myself and it’s good for me. Running and tennis are my go-to activities. I currently only have one sports bra that’s big enough and effective. I wear it with another bra but I can’t run as fast as I’d like to go.
“Recently I took up rowing at the gym but usually run, play tennis and do yoga.”
After repeated knock-backs and a frightening trip to A&E after a gym injury, Araba has decided to take matters into her own hands and is fundraising to get surgery done privately. Araba said: “I went to the gym to row. I leaned forward, I was really excited to get into the session, and then I realised that I couldn’t move my legs.
“When that happened I had to painfully struggle to get to A&E. When I got there they told me that I had slipped discs in my back. I was in a wheelchair, I was really upset at the thought that I couldn’t walk, that was just terrifying.
“I would love to recover fully from these slipped discs but also I’m aware that any little thing could make my recovery not happen.
“I thought ‘I’m not going to wait for this to get so bad that I literally can’t move before I do something about it’ because that was quite scary. I think ‘if I’m going through this now, how will it be when I get older?’ It can only get worse.
“After that, I looked at different surgery costs. I’ve seen some for £6,000 but I don’t want to opt in for a surgery that’s cheaper that’s not the best surgery I can get. If I got the surgery I would be so much happier and more confident, it would be life-changing for me.
“Right now I feel the life I’m living is a life that has been minimised because of all the effects of my large breasts.”
South West London NHS said before a breast reduction is undertaken, authorisation must be obtained by the treating clinician to demonstrate that the patient meets the agreed criteria for treatment and provide assurance that both the patient and the local population can expect to get maximum health benefit from the procedure in question.
The South West London ECI (Effective Commissioning Initiative) policy covers treatments and procedures that can be funded under clear criteria. The policy also ensures a consistent approach across south west London and each NHS pound is spent in a way that provides clinical value to our population.
A South West London NHS spokesman said: “Our local policy has been developed with clinical experts to ensure we treat people with the greatest clinical need.”