CHALLENGE: Post your breast cancer tattoo on our Facebook page here (and tell us all about what inspired it!) — then tag us using either our Facebook name: @AdvocatesForBreastCancer or by using the hashtag: #ABCbreastcancertattoo
Today’s photograph from Tracey Derrick‘s body of work, 1 in 9, is a photograph of the plaster cast she made of her chest, post-mastectomy. Through the tender replication of her chest, she somehow manages to both powerfully AND gently obliterate the media’s ‘requirement’ for women to ‘build themselves back together’ into a state of ‘normal femininity’ —- and instead presents us with a portrait of herself simply as she is: pure, unencumbered, real and unutterably and beautifully herself: unique!
Whether we choose reconstruction, to wear breast prostheses or go breast-free, the power of choice lies in our hands: it is our choice, and our choice alone.
EXPRESSIVE ART WORKSHOPS by Shelley Klammer
“After breast cancer treatment this identity of ‘desirable object’ becomes confused because the ‘traditional’ nude, as an idealized object of male desire, clearly precludes any possibility of illness or ‘imperfection’ and denies the ‘unacceptable’ hidden truths within, for example, the scars, a single breast, lumpy breasts, false breasts; changes that women live with after treatment. Through the media, the ideal woman is ‘put together’ and defined by appearance.
Artist Jo Spence was especially concerned with the breast as an object of desire, as a device for nourishing babies, and finally in her case of breast cancer, as a possession to be placed in the hands of the medical institution. This is exemplified by her photo of her breast, marked with a pen “Property of Jo Spence?” where she appears to question her rights over her own body, using the breast as a metaphor for women’s struggle to become active subjects. Following her *lumpectomy, she documented the appearance of her scarred breast, thereby challenging traditional representations of that subject. In one image she documents the struggle between her everyday appearance (revealing her scars), and the glamorous representation of women – signified by the Hollywood-style sunglasses and the seductive pose and drape of her blouse off her shoulder. (1986:157)
*Lumpectomy is surgery in which only the tumor and some surrounding tissue is removed. It is a form of “breast-preservation” and technically is a partial mastectomy. Jo Spence had a mastectomy later on in her life when her breast cancer returned.” ~ Tracey Derrick
Documenting myself began during my mastectomy operation. It was the first time that I had ever had surgery and requested the surgeon and nurses to take photographs of my operation.
Afterwards in hospital I had a borrowed digital SLR camera with me. This simple act of holding a camera helped me feel more secure and that possibly I had some control over the situation.
This was the beginning of participating in my own recovery from cancer and the first time that I had ever used a digital camera.” ~ Tracey Derrick
There are various types of reconstructions that can be offered to a patient after a mastectomy. There are many factors that need to be considered before one can decide on a reconstruction and this needs to be discussed between the patient and the surgeon. Each person is different and the type of reconstruction is based on many various factors including:
There are many types of reconstruction, most of which are available in South Africa. Reconstruction can be done as an immediate reconstruction or a delayed reconstruction.
Once a mastectomy with reconstruction has been performed, a nipple can also be made. This would be done only once the reconstruction has entirely healed and would involve small procedures. A tattoo can be done to give the nipple areolar its colour.
Reconstruction is a very personal decision and the patient should not be rushed into something that they do not feel comfortable with having. It is important as a patient to look into the various options that are offered before making a decision.
Sr Lieske Wegelin
In looking at the Luminal A and Luminal B breast cancer sub-types, we’ve summarised excerpts from a variety of expert sources into which we’ve included links for you to follow for deeper insights.
Luminal A and Luminal B types:
Luminal A — the least aggressive and most common subtype — accounts for 42% to 59% of all breast cancers, according to background information in the study.
Luminal B typically occurs in younger women and accounts for about 10% of all breast cancers.
Current research suggests that luminal A and luminal B cancers are two completely different diseases, and work is being performed to better distinguish between these two disease types so as to deliver more effective therapy to individual patients.
(Quite medically technical article!) READ MORE:→ The Oncologist‘s New Developments in Hormone Receptor–Positive Disease
“I chose this photo because it shows my breast that isn’t there any more. This is my scare, but also my reminders that I conquered cancer.”
~ Margaret, 73 years old (Bonteheuwel, Cape Town)
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