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!



ART THERAPY BLOG: Activites & Ideas


  • 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!


This Simple Act Helped Me…

Tracey Derrick - breast cancer portraiture - mastectomy surgery - Dr Paul Whitehead

“Myself as Subject

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


TAKEAWAY: Amelia’s Story

Water Your Own Garden: Practical Tips

Following on from last week’s post about how and why to take charge of your own recovery, we’ve collected together a series of practical tips for you to use in your own recovery journey:

advocates for breast cancer_south africa_horticultural therapy

Ensure that you have the right relationship with your treatment team. 

REMEMBER: you have the right to be treated as an equal partner in your health care management.


To make sure you become part of your treatment team, it is important to let them know:


  • how you are viewing your situation — and the way you are choosing to deal with it
  • how much information you want to be given
  • how hard you want to fight your cancer and to what lengths you are prepared to go medically
  • if you prefer not to have medical treatment or to stop treatment you are having
  • how you are reacting emotionally to your situation and how well you are coping (or not.) 



ASK = Attitude + Skills + Knowledge




  • take COMPLETE ownership and charge of your situation, never allowing yourself to be rail-roaded into any treatment decision!
  • ask for understanding and flexibility and help if at any time you feel too vulnerable to have treatment
  • ask for the support you need
  • try to explain to your team your values which underpin your approach and beliefs
  • ask your team to be tolerant of the choices you are making with regards to your health care.



  • To get ALL the appropriate information about your situation
  • be given time to digest and react to this
  • gived informed consent to treatment
  • prepare yourself for treatment – and then embark upon your treatment fully confident that YOU have picked the very best course of action for YOU!

NB: if you are unhappy and uncomfortable with your consultant and their opinion,

it is your right to ASK for a second opinion!




Here are some seeds to plant in the garden of your heart to grow hope and a healthier, more resilient you: inside and out!


(Please note that one or two of the articles are quite scholarly – but we thought you would still find them helpful!)

Healing Gardens

The Healing Garden

Home Gardening: An Effective Cancer Therapy  by The Journal of the Cancer Institute

Growing Hope: Horticultural Therapy & Restorative Gardens by Cure Today 

Advocates for Breast Cancer - Laetitia Maklouf - Gardening Therapy for Cancer


And for those of you who fear their thumbs could never be green, then the delightfully darling Laetitia Maklouf will be just the right cup of tea for you with her book, The Virgin Gardener, which comes wonderfully recommended by one of our bloggers who herself experienced the therapeutically grounding and growing benefits of getting her hands down ‘n dirty!




Water Your Own Garden: Ten Facts


How and Why to Take Charge of YOUR Recovery!

Advocates for Breast Cancer_Integrated Medicine


We’ve collected together these 10 FACTS to calm, empower and encourage you. Read them when you feel frightened, discouraged or lost!


FACT ONE: Cancer is a two-way process: it can grow – but it can also shrink or go into remission.

FACT TWO: People have recovered from every single kind of cancer and are living to tell the tale!

FACT THREE: A healthy body has detection and repair mechanisms for cancer cells.

Maintaining the optimum possible health of your body + mind + spirit + environment = assists in the repair process and boosts your natural anti-cancer mechanisms naturally present in your body.

FACT FOUR: There are many factors and options (aside from orthodox medicine) over which YOU have primary control and which may affect your survival time with cancer. YOU can empower YOURSELF: explore and experiment with these different options to see which best fits in with your unique personality, lifestyle and cancer-type!

FACT FIVE: Your personal response to cancer can make a huge difference to both your quality of life and your survival.

FACT SIX: You are a unique individual — and statistics never apply to individuals! Nobody knows your particular survival time with your particular kind of cancer – especially once you become active in your own defence.

All of the conventional statistics are historical and most likely based on results of people who remained entirely passive, using medicine treatment alone to combat their cancer!

FACT SEVEN: You should see your conventional treatment as ONE component only of your cancer recovery plan — and become actively involved in your recovery process.

FACT EIGHT: It is vital that you do not rely too much on the effectiveness of your medical treatment alone to “cure” you of cancer. Choose to turn your back on the passive patient role and proactively & self-assuredly join forces with your medical team! (Notice the word ‘team’? You are your BEST cheerleader!)

FACT NINE: It is you and not your doctors who are in overall charge of your situation.

FACT TEN: Many people who have chosen to embark on a holistic healing approach end up saying that they are ultimately GLAD they had cancer because they are now feeling more content, self-assured, happier, healthier and more alive than ever before.


{ Adapted  from the Cancer Lifeline Programme, Dr Rosy Daniel of Health Creation }


Advocates for Breast Cancer - Dr Rosy Daniel - Integrated Medicine