When I choose to go flat 1 year ago it was very hard to find empowered women embracing their flatness.
My desire with this shoot was to empower women. Whatever your choice is- it’s your body, it’s your choice. It’s your only body and it’s only yours. I want to encourage women like me, when faced with big decisions. To let go of the “what if” let go of “pleasing other people”.
“What if people notice”. Let them notice. “What if I get a new partner and they don’t like it”- then that person isn’t who you are meant to be with. Pleasing other people won’t make you win at life. Trust me. I dare you to just STOP all that outside chatter. Listen. What do you want to do with your body? Not the recommendations from your plastic surgeon, your mother, grocery store clerk or best friend. YOU.
Think of it this way. You’re fighting for your life, a second chance, don’t put yourself through more than you need to because you think it will make other people happy.
I’m not advocating for this, or that. I’m advocating for you. To be you, to listen to you. To honour you.
I was making sure all my health ducks were in a row because myself personally and my family had endured some serious health issues in the two previous years, so I thought I should be update on my mammogram while I was at it. I had a mammogram in Jan. 2016, which lead to a second mammo, then a wire biopsy as they spotted some specks at the back of my left breast. It turned out to be high grade DCIS. I was stunned as they told me, all I could think of was watching my Mother lose her battle with breast cancer in 2001. Of all the options I decided on a double skin and nipple sparing mastectomy. I had my bi lateral mastectomy Sept 2016. I saw how radiation and tamoxifen further destroyed my Mom. I suppose to some people it was a drastic reaction to DCIS, (ductal carcinoma in situ) but I didn't want to keep looking over my shoulder, especially since my Mother passed from breast cancer, and also considering I was diagnosed at age 46 and want to never hear those words in the same context again. I am still awaiting another reconstruction surgery and fat grafting to improve the aesthetic outcome and texture of my "foobs". ;p;
After that I will get a stunning chest piece mastectomy tattoo by David Allen. I have had a career in modeling since 2006 and am slowly finding the courage to get back to it. Thank you for making me a part of this group. It helped me to "let go".
I was diagnosed at age 40 with no previous family history.
I went into my doctor for my yearly physical and said, “I guess it’s time for a mammogram” She advised that mammos aren’t recommended now till you’re 50 unless there is a family history & she gave me a number to call to book if I choose too. For whatever reason I decided to have the mammo. The universe had my back I guess!
I was lucky it was diagnosed early. Who knows what my journey would have looked like if I waited till 50 to have my first mammogram.
I ended up having a total of 6 surgeries. (2 lumpectomies which did not result in clear margins, then has to have a complete mastectomy. Followed by reconstruction)
Cancer sucks and the journey is not an easy one but at the same time it has brought so much into my life. New connections, a new found strength, a new zest for life. And my scars will always be constant reminder to live life to the fullest.
PS... I’ll be 5 years cancer free on November 29th!!!
So I have no cancer in my family and I breast fed two babies. I was also 38.
I found a small lump in my right breast on September 11, 2013. Two or so weeks later I was going to my family doctor for a refill on my sons medication. As I was getting ready for this appointment, I noticed in the shower (I was taught in jr high that doing self exams were important and that it was convenient to do it in the shower) that the small lump was now double in size. It was now like a small grape. I was sent for an ultrasound which led to a mammogram which led to a biopsy.
I was told after the biopsy that they were sure it was cancer but we had to wait for the results. It was the longest 10 day of my life. On October 15, it was confirmed.
Booked for a lumpectomy on October 23rd. By this time, you could grab the tumour and move it!! My poor husband is in the airforce and was deployed during this! Was so hard on both of us.
The surgeon removed 7cm and 3 nodes. The tumour came back measuring 6.5cm. I was booked in for a mastectomy at this point as they most definitely did not get clear margins after the first surgery. The cancer was found in my lymph nodes as well.
I met with the oncologists on December 31 and started 6 months of chemotherapy. The first Chemo I was to do was 1 dose every 3 weeks for 4 doses. After my second dose, my white blood cells dropped to almost zero so at this time my dr decided I needed to stop this dose or it could kill me. So we started the next round Which was once a week for 12 weeks. I had developed infections and was in the emergency a few times. It hurt to walk or even hold a glass of water at times. Chemo is horrible!!
After 6 months of hell, it was now on to radiation!!! 28 treatments which took 5.5 weeks of living in Victoria and home on weekends. I was raising two boys at this time as well.
Because my cancer scored as high in estrogen as you can go, I was to take hormone therapy for ten years. I tried 4 different kinds of therapy over two years and had more side effects than was listed. I could not live that way so I decided to have quality of life versus quantity. It was a very hard choice but it’s my choice.
I had stage 3 invasive ductal carsenoma.
I am at high risk for reacurrance.
I try to step out of my box sometimes which is why I did this photo shoot. I am very shy and am very self conscious.
I had my breast reconstruction in 2015. That took a few surgeries. I love my plastic surgeon!! Sheena MacAdam is truly a gift. Last October, I was given the gift of my beautiful breast tattoo for the P.Ink day from Sam Rae. I can now feel beautiful and proud to show my scars.
In 2010 I was told I had dense breasts. After having my screening mammogram, the tech asked me to wait while the radiologist checked the film. “Nothing to worry about, you just have dense breasts", she assured me. I was 53.
Along comes February 2017 I discovered a lump in my left breast (I had a "normal" mammogram just over a year earlier). I had cysts twice before in my breasts so I wasn't worried. “It's another cyst" I told myself, but still booked a visit with my GP. In March 2017, as I happily anticipated my retirement at the end of the month I had a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound then biopsy. Three days later I celebrated my 60th birthday, ten days after I received the diagnosis. Aggressive, invasive, stage 2, grade 3, ductal adenocarcinoma. Two weeks later (just 4 days after my last day of work) I had my left breast and two lymph nodes removed.
In true organizational fashion, I began my collection of reports, literature and handouts. I requested the reports of my 2013 and 2015 mammograms. This is when I discovered that my breast density was a "C" (Category C/ heterogeneously dense breasts/ 50-75% density). Wow, something so important was a tick box and this didn't even get a mention on the report sent to my GP. Actually, not even a report, a form letter which includes the following statement “Some cancers cannot be detected in a mammogram due to the location of the cancer or the density of the breast tissue.” Geez! And I'm a 3 out of 4 and my GP isn't even made aware!!
I was also shocked when I read my radiation oncologist's consult where she noted that "the 2.5 cm well circumscribed mass" was larger on the 2017 mammogram and ultrasound than in the 2015 mammogram. WHAT?!?! So that tumour was there in 2015, but unseen. I was stunned!
I endured four months of chemo, 28 rounds of radiation and am taking letrozole for the next 5 years as the cancer was estrogen receptor positive. But, I am considered cancer free!
I have learned much about dense breasts through "Dense Breasts Canada". Having dense breast tissue is an increased risk for breast cancer AND to add to the equation cancer can hide extremely well on a mammogram because the dense tissue shows white just like cancer does. It's likened to finding a polar bear in a snow storm. Please, Please, Please request your density!
I never thought I would hear those words "you have breast cancer", nor what a close bond I would have with my survivor sisters, but, there is an incredible camaraderie in the shared experience. Reach out, connect! Sisters for life!
I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma (breast cancer) in May 2017 at the age of 61 and had a unilateral mastectomy on my right side less than two weeks later.
It all happened so quickly, not giving me much time to think, so I just followed along obeying the surgeon and oncologist. Six weeks later I had my one and only chemo treatment. I almost died from the combination of chemo, the anti-nausea drugs, etc and was still needing help walking four weeks post treatment. One of the many side effects I experienced from the three anti-nausea drugs prescribed is suicidal thoughts which tortured me for a couple days. I was so close to taking an overdose of sleeping pills and ending it all. Thankfully my husband was there for me, talked me off the edge and we decided I would not continue with the chemo treatments. My oncologists were shocked by just how sick I got and totally understood my decision.
Being an artist for most of my life I spend my days painting in my studio. My art has changed since the cancer diagnosis. I created an exhibition in 2018 of post mastectomy self-portraits which was deeply healing for me and eye opening for the viewers. Through all this I’ve become very open with to strangers about my art, the mastectomy, breast cancer and how to help someone going through the trials of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is not pink. It is a horrible disease that kills fourteen women a day in Canada!
Women both young and old…please check your breasts. More breast cancer is found by women who check their own breasts than by mammograms, especially if it is a lobular cancer in dense breast tissue.
After spending my morning reading these women’s stories and having the honour to meet them and photograph them. I can say through teary eyes how incredibly strong, confident and brave they all are.
Breast Cancer is no foreign term, I doubt that is anyone out there who hasn’t had a friend or family member fight it.
Watching these women bare all and come together in support was something I will never forget. There shouldn’t be shame around mastectomies! There shouldn’t be shame in that fact that these women are WARRIORS and no woman should have to go through this alone. I did not use the pink fabric to try to make this shoot “pretty” I wanted to use something to show they are one; to show how much power is in a tribe.
So much love to you all and all the others out there who can relate, let’s wipe our tears and keep living!