|The Scar Project: David Jay|
But it may be something else entirely when your scars are still new. I nearly added and when you're "young" (under 30? 35? 40? 45?). Is there any woman who didn't feel "too young for this" when receiving a BC cancer diagnosis? Or for that matter: any kind of cancer?
The vulnerability that cancer reveals is unnerving and the core of what photographer David Jay captures so hauntingly in The Scar Project, an exhibit of full-scale portraits of young women with breast cancer. He started this awareness-building effort when a friend of his was diagnosed at 32. She is one of approximately 10,000 women under 40 diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
To hear of a 25 year-old woman with breast cancer was completely out of the ballpark years ago. It isn't now. The youngest woman diagnosed in 2009 at The Rose, Houston's well-known breast cancer detection and navigation organization, was 19. Of the more than 27,000 women served by The Rose, there were 37 women under 40 diagnosed with breast cancer. Of those, 34 did not have insurance.
When I first learned about The Scar Project a year ago I saw the image you see above. It stayed with me, for all the obvious reasons -- there's a powerful, compelling, haunting, and beautiful story here. How is this woman? I want to know everything about her. When was the baby born? Are both OK now? I so hope. A study from MD Anderson initiated by my oncologist has confirmed that a women can actually safely navigate a pregnancy and breast cancer treatment -- simultaneously.
Oddly enough though, when I flipped to the web page for the project, where the portraits advance automatically -- I found the entire collection overwhelming.
Would I want to see all the portraits -- in one place, at one time? I'm not sure. It is one thing, when I meet with a newly diagnosed women and we talk surgery, reconstruction, scar maintenance, and show each other our "boob jobs." Survivor to survivor: the first thing you do for some newly diagnosed woman is show her. It is an immediate affirmation: look, I went through this, you can too and you'll be OK.
I thank all the women whose portraits grace this collection; and at the same time, I'm sorry. None of us wanted to see the other this way.
And that's the God's honest truth.
The Scar Project
Additional resources I like for the young at heart:
Young Survival Coalition
I2Y (I'm 2 Young for this Cancer Foundation)
LiveStrong Young Adult Alliance
Anderson Network: Cancer 180