It was the day of her 32nd birthday when Beth Whaanga, mother of 4 kids, received the news that would change her life forever: she had breast cancer. She also possesses the BRCA2 gene, which promotes the growth of cancer cells in the breast and ovaries. Beth has now her breasts amputated and her uterus removed.
The Australian woman decided to share her story on her Facebook page - and she did in a really special way: she uploaded some pictures of her naked body, just to show her scars to other people. Her purpose was to give strength and courage to other women who also suffer from breast cancer.
Whaanga and her friend and photographer, Nadia Masot, started the "Under The Red Dress Project" who would allow other people to see Whaanga's naked body with all of its scars. As she says: “Every day we walk past other people. They look normal, but sometimes their body tells another story underneath their clothes. We want to show that cancer affects everyone.”
Before posting her pictures, Beth warned her Facebook friends: “These pictures are controversial and contain topless material,” she wrote. “They aren’t supposed to be sexual at all. The goal of this project is to create awareness for breast cancer. If you find this pictures offensive then block them from your newsfeed.”
Her Facebook friends' reaction were diverse.The majority of people congratulated her for her strength and her struggle. However there were 103 people who deleted Beth from their FB friends! One even commented: “I don’t want to see such drastic pictures on a website where people can’t decide if they want to see that or not, just like it happened to me. That can happen to kids too when they go on Facebook!”
Yet the photographer Nadia Masot defended the project commenting: “All those who think that these photos ‘are simply not for them’ may be those in the end that they were a bit more aware when it hits them – it’s even worse that they have decided to get upset instead of listening. Ignorance is never the right choice.”
Double breast amputation. Breast reconstruction. Brustamputation. Brustrekonstruktion. Belly button reconstruction. Removal of the uterus. Weight loss. Persistent hair loss. these photos show mercilessly what Beth had to endure during her cancer illness. “But after the operation, I feel that I will live longer – and that is the best part of all – not just for me, but also for my family.”
Fortunately, Beth Whaanga encouraged other women to be photographed too for the project. The goal remains the same: to give strength to women and to let everyone know that breast cancer can be cured.
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