When she found a lump in her breast, she didn’t do anything about it. She was scared. She hoped it would go away and she didn’t tell anyone not even her husband.
By the time she did tell someone, it was too late. The cancer had spread. She died less than two years after she found the lump.
She was a lovely, giving, caring person and I miss her.
I have two other friends who developed breast cancer. One very young, the other a grandmother. Both survived. One with the help of traditional means, the other with the additional help of alternative therapies.
Breast cancer is something that touches everyone.
It seems to me though that often the focus is wholly on the survivors. I mean the women who go through chemo and keep their breasts. You can look at them and be unaware that they have survived a terrifying illness and a grueling recovery. This is not a criticism- these women should be celebrated and honored.
But what about the women who lose a breast or both? Who don’t fit the picture we have of feminine beauty anymore?
Are they marginalized? Ostracized? Pushed to the side because they make the rest of the survivors ‘look bad’? What about the women who lose the fight? Are they lesser? Did they not fight as hard? Did they give up? Did some part of them not want to live as much?
And why is a woman who has won the battle less beautiful if she emerges wounded, scarred, not physically whole?
My cousin, Fine Art Photographer, Charise Isis has always celebrated the feminine in women of all ages, shapes and sizes. She is amazingly skilled at revealing the inner beauty of a woman through her art. When she began The Grace Project, she saw these women as warriors rather than only survivors. Of all the women who suffer and survive breast cancer, the women who’ve had mastectomies are often the ones who hide themselves away or are hidden away, because of societal perceptions, because of shame, because of a loss of identity.
The images she captures are strong, beautiful, powerful, inspiring, upsetting, emotional, devastating, unforgettable and heartbreaking. Which is what art should always be. She gives these women a voice, she demands that they be heard and seen, she lets them reclaim their strength and beauty. (I love that she uses Goddesses and classical Art as her provenance).