These days it seems like every day is dedicated to something. There is even a 'World Television Day' (21st November) and a 'World Pulses Day' (it's next week - 10th February to be exact). Most of these pass me by, however, when 'World Cancer Day' pops up, I do take a moment to think about what it really means. I have a couple of friends who went through breast cancer and both of them did so with a remarkably positive attitude, along with an almost palpable strength and determination to become healthy again. At the face of it neither of them had any other option than to just get on with it, and I dare say there were tears and anger as well, but to deal with it as gracefully as they did, I find admirable. One of these women is Karrie-ann.
When Karrie-ann was pregnant with her second child she found out she had breast cancer. It wasn't because she had found a lump, which is what most people look out for, but she had noticed that her left breast appeared to have deflated. She had to make the agonising decision to go though with chemo and a mastectomy as she couldn't risk her first-born growing up without his mummy.
She is one of the lucky ones and to celebrate her strength as well as coming to terms with what she went through she asked me to photograph her, her scar and her children.
She is very open about what she went through. Her children refer to her mastectomy scar as 'Smiley Face'. During our session they even put googly eyes above it! About 18 months after I took the first images of her, she returned for a second session. She wanted to celebrate her body and what it has gone through, two children and a mastectomy. You would never know about her scar, looking at her on the school playground at pick-up time. She is always busy, always offers to help with school fundraising and if anyone needs a hand with pretty much anything, and always, always chatting away. I think pretty much everyone local knows who she is and we're all grateful that she managed to stay strong and positive.
I do try to check my breasts regularly but this day is a yearly reminder to make sure I do. Karrie-ann and I hope by sharing these images, it will remind you too. However, these images should also be shared because they show a beautiful woman, in their own right.