CHOOSE YOUnique BeYOUty!

Tracey Derrick - plaster cast of her chest post-mastectomy - self portraiture: photography

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.


If you would like to share your story about your post-mastectomy body
and your new, YOUnique normal,
please pop us an inboxed message on Facebook!

HE{ART}FELT TAKEAWAYS

RESOURCES & IDEAS:

ART THERAPY BLOG: Activites & Ideas

EXPRESSIVE ART WORKSHOPS by Shelley Klammer

  • We love the idea of art journalling as creative ‘self therapy‘ (click here to read more!) but the website is full of other wonderful  ideas – and we recommend signing up for her very helpful and inspiring newsletters too!

 

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Reaching For Recovery

Tracey Derrick - breast prosthesis - mastectomy - Advocates For Breast Cancer

TITLE: “Hang on? – come unstuck, detach, unfasten, free. Why reconstruct, whose ideals?” 2009

This particular photography by Tracey Derrick simply refused to fit into our graphic designer’s template – so it was decided the photograph would be most powerfully appreciated shown – purely – on its own.

How do you feel looking at this image?

How does it resonate with your own experience of mastectomy and the decision to opt for either reconstruction, prostheses or go completely breast-free?


Within the South African public health space, the bare minimum of breast cancer treatment options are very often not even managed – so how do our public health survivors navigate their post-mastectomy recovery where even one breast prosthesis costs R700?

Reach For Recovery is “a breast cancer support organisation with a unique focus on breast cancer support and one of the only organisations that provide a patient support service on a national basis. It is built on a simple yet universal principle: that of one woman who has experienced breast cancer herself giving freely of her time and experience to assist and support another woman with breast cancer.

Well-selected and trained volunteers, who each have experienced the breast cancer journey, render an emotional care and practical support programme to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients and their families.

The Ditto Project aims “to help these women who come from very low income groups to feel confident again after the traumatic diagnoses and surgery through our Ditto Project… and aim to assist them with a silicone breast prosthesis.”

For SUPPORT: get in touch with Reach For Recovery by clicking here!

To VOLUNTEER, click here!

To help support The Ditto Project, click here!

 

Breast Cancer: Of Secrecy, Shame & Sexuality

Tracey Derrick - breast cancer self-portrait: 'Firing Squad' (mastectomy)

 

Sedgwick discusses the ways in which breast cancer is not only constructed as a secret, but how this construction defines woman as such.

Sexual and gender identities are reproduced through rituals surrounding breast cancer in which femininity is literally and symbolically reconstructed. She says “with the proper toning exercise, make-up, wigs and a well-fitting prosthesis, we could feel just as feminine as we ever had and no-one need know that anything had happened” (1994: 262).

I find that this silence only affirms woman’s confusion and this contradiction in the context of sexuality confirms the force of woman’s fear of being ‘different’. Encouragement to hide the consequences of breast cancer illustrates the concept of private and public, what is secret and what is revealed and what is shameful.” ~ Tracey Derrick


What did the ‘Firing Squad’ portrait of Tracey do to your heart?

What emotions did it trigger for you?

 

South Africa & Breast Cancer: Reality Bites

D I D    Y O U   K  N O W  ? 

  • 15 % of the population use Private Sector Health: they are served straight away upon diagnosis.
  • 85% of the population use Public Sector Health have to wait…

 

Basket of Services - Breast Cancer in South Africa

Women in Private Sector care have access to the entire ‘basket’ of services:

  1. Surgery
  2. All forms of treatment
  3. Supportive care
  4. Breast reconstructive surgery
  5. Breast prostheses
  6. Lymphoedema service

This is, however, not always the case for the Public Heath Sector.

Saying that, even women in the Private Sector can miss out on receiving full cover from their medical aids for their actual cancer diagnosis and all associated treatments if they don’t carefully inform themselves by making sure to read the FINE PRINT of their policies! If they don’t thoroughly know the conditions of their medical aid policy, they will end up joining the treatment queue with their sisters in the Public Health Sector.

 


If 85% of our women are in the public sector how many of them are lucky enough to get the full ‘basket of services‘?

Breast Cancer - Basket of Services

Once again, it is our responsibility to equip and empower ourselves – as well as our sisters – with the knowledge necessary to make sure we have our rights met!