WARNING: Graphic image may offend.
I've never had a photo of mine cause as much controversy as this one did. This is my youngest sister after she had her mastectomy. People were shocked, disgusted, you name it. Welcome to her world.
This was published in the Orange County Register during Breast Cancer Awareness week a few years ago, along with the story that goes with it.
Cancer Isn't for Sissies
I know this photograph is hard to look at, but cancer isn’t for sissies. This photo was taken some years back after my youngest sister’s mastectomy following her diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer, a more rare and more deadly form of breast cancer. What I love about the photo is what it tells us about HER. Always a free spirited sort, the crystal pendant was a symbol of her New Age leanings. The dog tags, which belonged to our deceased uncle, an air force chaplain, symbolized her "fox hole conversion." Facing possible death, she wasn’t quite sure where the truth lay as far as an afterlife went, but wasn’t taking any chances. The crystal heart was her attempt to feminize what was left of her body, having survived the ravages of surgery, chemo and radiation. Most people don’t ever get to see what a chest looks like after a mastectomy, which is why I shot this photo. Well meaning, they say, “just be grateful you’re alive...” and will not allow the survivor to grieve the loss of their breast. One of the many lessons I learned from my warrior-sister’s cancer journey was to shut up and just listen and to recognize they will go through all the stages of grief over this loss and on their “angry” days, should be allowed to feel anger without someone minimizing their feelings by saying, “just be grateful you are alive.” They CAN be grateful and angry at the same time. Really.
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