Every once in a blue moon an opportunity comes along to be a part of a movement that has the potential to make a difference in thousands of women’s lives. Wouldn’t you do what you could to help? I have been very fortunate to have been gifted the opportunity to use my skills as an artist to raise awareness for an amazing charity called Reclaim Your Curves. They are a very brave and driven group of women who have decided that through their own painful experience of not just breast cancer, but breast reconstruction, that they would band together to try and make the journey for other women through the maze of reconstruction a little easier.
I wasn’t aware until I met these amazing women that Australia has one of the lowest take up rates of post breast cancer reconstruction in the OECD. Why? There is a real disconnect between patients, GP’s and surgeons and many patients a left feeling they should be just happy they survived, let alone dream of recovering the shape that they loved because their cancer care professionals aren’t having that conversation with them. I mean, if you had your leg amputated because of cancer, one of the first conversations had is about how the cancer can be removed in the best way to facilitate a prosthetic limb. This does not seem to be the case with breast cancer patients. Reclaim Your Curves hopes to educate and communicate to not just patients, but the medical fraternity as well. But, like all charities, they need funds. So please, share this post. We’re hoping to get loads of interest, donations and even some attention from the mainstream media.
This awareness campaign project I’m shooting for them is a visual diary of sorts where I am shooting willing Brest cancer survivors post-cancer but just before they go in for their reconstructions. I’m again photographing them after their reconstruction surgery to illustrate that once you leave the machinations of “cancer treatment” the journey doesn’t end there for many ladies. I’d like to introduce the very courageous Annmaree who is going under the knife yet again tomorrow for her final breast reconstruction surgery. A journey she may not have knew was available had it not been for the Reclaim Your Curves organisation. Annmaree wants to communicate to other patients that its OK to want your curves back, to not be satisfied with just “surviving”. That for many women to “survive” means not just to live, but it also means getting their breasts back to how they were before, or close to.
So far I’ve photographed two ladies, Tracey and Annmaree and both had i guess a sense of duty to their bodies not to deny this point in its journey. Once they go in for reconstruction, it will never look the same again. For the better hopefully, but nevertheless, a moment in time worth documenting for themselves, their families and other cancer patients who perhaps cant see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead of the wonderful breast cancer photographic campaigns of recent years which feature survivors in a stark and almost confrontational pose, I chose to portray these women in this moment as the beautiful artworks they are. To convey that even though something very ugly has happened to them, they own it. It is theirs, no one can deny them that and they are beautiful despite their scars and even perhaps because of them.
After Annemaree’s reconstruction tomorrow, I’ll be following her story to shoot her again with a “curves reclaimed” photoshoot. With this series of images, Annmaree wanted other cancer patients to see that through the perseverance of yet another surgery, the result is a regaining of her pre-cancer figure. So stay tuned for the next installment of her journey where I’ll be shooting a more “glamour” styled portrait with some tight-fitting clothes to show off her new curves. I can’t wait!
I have to give a HUGE thank you and shout out to the local businesses who generously donated their time and/or services to make this shoot possible. I love it when businesswomen get together to lift up another – there’s way too much tearing down of others going on in this world so it was heart warming to work together with these warm and generous ladies. You restored my faith in humanity. Thank You.
So, for all the information you need about post-breast cancer reconstruction and to leave a donation, please head over the Reclaim your Curves website: www.reclaimyourcurves.org.au