Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feel your boobies

Every month my book club friends gather to discuss our latest read.  And to remind each other it is time to do our monthly breast self-exams.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It's October.

Breast Cancer Awareness is something near and dear to my heart.  I became aware of many important things in my life by becoming aware of the breast cancer history in my family.  My mother (twice), grandmother and great-grandmother all survived breast cancer.  Pretty sobering.

I found the Scar Project site through a chance meeting with the photographer, David Jay.

Barbara and I met him (and his dog Snoopy) at a NYC cafe.  He is an interesting person--a fashion photographer who divides his time between NYC and Sydney.  He took a photo of his dear friend who had experienced breast cancer at an early age.  The photo shows her scars and visually records the toll the cancer took on her body.  That photo turned into a major project, garnering interest from other breast cancer survivors and from the media.  The Scar Project took on a life of its own.  Now an exhibition and a future book, David Jay is attempting to "raise money for research, increase awareness and hopefully present a series of images that will challenge the traditional perceptions of this disease. The images portray the strength, beauty and dignity of these survivors."

The photos on the site

are difficult to look at.  But they are truly beautiful, too.  Don't go there if you might be uncomfortable.

If you do go there, I'd like to hear your input.

I thought the photos took some of the stigma out of mastectomies.  And increased my awareness.  Yes, difficult to look at, but also humbling and awe inspiring and moving and... I don't have the words.

A loved one who has experienced breast cancer thought that maybe the project would cause fear in the onlooker and possibly prevent women from wanting to get checked.  She wants women to have hope and know that disfigurement isn't the whole story.  She has heard many conversations about the fear of disfigurement possibly outweighing the risk of death.  I wonder if that is generational.  My generation seems so open to talking about it and realizing how important early detection is.  We know so many survivors now.

We both agree that we squinch up inside when we look at the pictures.  Is it sensational?  Is it using scare tactics?  Is it moving?  Is it motivating?

What do you think?


Lorinda said...

Cherie and I decided that we're glad we saw it because what if we have to do that someday? Wow!

James said...

Cindy, thanks for posting this! I have wanted to do a photo project like this--but have been afraid to approach the women who have gone through breast cancer. What a brave and beautiful piece of art! The human body is a beautiful thing, and scars tell such interesting and amazing stories. It's so easy to photograph and display images of "the perfect body". But it is so overdone. I find projects like this much more interesting and meaningful. For what it's worth, my respect and admiration go out to David Jay and his courage to explore this subject, and help tell these brave women's stories.