Have you ever googled mastectomy before and after photos? It’s a heartbreaking array of faceless women’s maimed breasts under florescent lighting.
In 2014, I was planning a preventative bilateral mastectomy to reduce my risk of breast cancer due to the BRCA1 genetic mutation. While "planning" I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The Woody Allen quote "If you want to make GOD laugh, tell him your plans" comes to mind.
Before removing my breasts I wanted photographic evidence of what they looked like, but I didn't want mug shots of attempted murders. I wanted a photo that captured how I felt. So I decided to do a photo series that would express the emotion in each stage of the process.
I wanted to change the images that women saw of mastectomies. No more Before and After photos. I wanted them to see the Evolution, the Life, and the HUMOR in this dark situation.
Blast 'Em Photography enthusiastically got on board from the very begining, having worked with them as a model before “cancer”.
A year later we are ready to share the photo series with the world, just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
Each image represents how I felt during the mastectomy, chemo, and reconstruction process.
Taken a week prior to my mastectomy, an ode to the iconic Rosie the Riveter image, and a memorial to my original breast. My goal was to capture the "We CAN Do It" spirit going into the biggest battle of my life.
A couple of weeks after my mastectomy, with the expanders in, we captured our Bride of Frankenstein shot. Brynn Berg did make-up and hair and blew it out of the water. She created the wig and put such detail into the special fx makeup. Each stitch on the chest was hand tied. The only real wounds in this shot are my breasts.
The end of chemo, with my expanders fully inflated, I felt like a Mannequin. My eyebrows had to be airbrushed on and false eyelashes attached to just skin. Every hair on my body was gone. Tiffany Alfonso, from Beauty to Bloody, brought this concept to life.
Four months after chemo, two months after reconstruction and cancer-free, we finished the series with tear drop shaped gummy silicone implants and prosthetic nipples.
In the last year…
I had a skin sparing double mastectomy with a sentinel lymph node biopsy and expanders placed under the muscle on October 24th, 2014. December 2014 everything was put on hold for chemo. Chemo ended April 2015, followed by a complete hysterectomy in May 2015, and finally reconstruction June 29th, 2015.
For now, I have decided not to get my nipples reconstructed or tattooed because I enjoy the jokes and freedom I get from not having them. You can see what I mean here “Top 5 Weird Reasons I Love My Mastectomy”.
- Were you worried about how your breasts would look after your mastectomy? How did you deal with it? Please comment below.
It’s breast cancer awareness month! Please share this post to raise awareness to check your boobs.
Do you like my boobs? I have to give credit to my doctors. Dr. Eli Avisar at UM did the skin sparing mastectomy and Dr. Christopher Low at vapsfl.com, was my outstanding reconstructive surgeon.
If you found this helpful please donate to help make the documentary based on my one-woman show, “I Don’t Have Cancer”.
A very special thanks to the make-up artists, Brynn Berg, on the Bride of Frankenstein photo, and Tiffany Alonso on the mannequin shoot. They helped expand the concept and make it art. Michelle and Chris Diamantides for lending the wig on the Frankenstein shoot. Alexa and Ellie from Blast Em' for put their heart and soul into this project and reminded me that collaborations make everthing better.