Monday, November 21, 2011

Breast Cancer Is Not A Pink Ribbon


Scars all over my body
To remind me of my battles

Scars all over my mind
To remember all the trauma

Scars all over my heart
To feel the losses

Scars all over
Healing along the way
But never disappearing.

--Rachel Baumgartner

My esteemed teammate, Polly Nator sent me a link about The SCAR Project. {Thanks so much, Polly.} Feel free to follow the link to be better informed. The SCAR Project is a series of large-scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors shot by fashion photographer David Jay. Primarily an awareness raising campaign, The SCAR Project puts a raw, unflinching face on early onset breast cancer while paying tribute to the courage and spirit of so many brave young women.

Dedicated to the more than 10,000 women under the age of 40 who will be diagnosed this year alone, The SCAR Project is an exercise in awareness, hope, reflection and healing. The mission is three-fold: raise public consciousness of early-onset breast cancer, raise funds for breast cancer research/outreach programs and help young survivors see their scars, faces, figures and experiences through a new, honest and ultimately empowering lens.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women ages 15-40. The SCAR Project participants range from ages 18 to 35, and represent this often overlooked group of young women living with breast cancer. They journey from across America – and the world – to be photographed for The SCAR Project. Nearly 100 so far. The youngest being 18 years old.

Although Jay began shooting The SCAR Project primarily as an awareness raising campaign, he was not prepared for something much more immediate . . . and beautiful: “For these young women, having their portrait taken seems to represent their personal victory over this terrifying disease. It helps them reclaim their femininity, their sexuality, identity and power after having been robbed of such an important part of it. Through these simple pictures, they seem to gain some acceptance of what has happened to them and the strength to move forward with pride."

I agree with Jay's statement above because my scar is my badge of courage. I have fought that battle and won! My scar is a part of me. I even made reference to it in my poem I Lost/I Found. The gallery of pictures is a powerful reminder of breast cancer's aftermath. It evokes a myriad of feelings within me that is hard to put into words. The pictures intrigue me as true courage and victory shines through. I personally have a long scar but it is rather light (a testament to the fine job my surgeon, Dr. Haynes, did). I also have a "breast mound" [affectionately dubbed "The Boobette"] that remains in case I ever choose reconstruction. My life does not revolve around the scar tissue. My scar is neither repulsive nor pleasing -- it just is.

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