As breast cancer awareness month begins again in a couple of days, I am posting this video produced by Breast Cancer Care, which focusses on the topic of body image after cancer. In a culture where we are bombarded by images of the body beautiful - or at least someone's take on that - here we are invited to see three women who live with the external and internal scars of a breast cancer diagnosis, and who have been willing to allow the world to see them unclothed.
There has been a bit of unhelpful media reporting of comments attributed to Jennifer Saunders which appear to suggest that, bascially, we should just get over it and move on. I think this a question I ask myself at least once a week - but the reality is that only now are the final stages of my reconstructive surgery complete, and I have ongoing drug side-effects which periodically necessitate medical intervention... it is not that easy to 'get over it'. I do fear becoming a 'cancer bore' but if that boringness means one person gets treated sooner rather than later, or one person faces treatment with a teeny bit less fear or ignorance, then so be it. Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon, but if it is a 'badge' then it's one I will try to use for good.
Three years ago I was terrified, now it is 'just' a shadow that I notice sometimes more than others... perhaps it is my shadow which, contra Peter Pan, I cannot lose, and will stay with me so long as there is light. But to live in the light, even with shadows, is surely to live.
As well as the video, BCC invited a dozen or so women to contribute a "letter to my body" as part of the campaign, and I was one of them. If you want to read what I wrote you can do so here (photo from my 50th birthday!) - but be aware it is quite explicit about the surgery I have had, which be tmi for some readers (though nothing inappropriate for a lady of the cloth imo).