I want you to do something. I want you to look at a photo. And I want you to tell me what you see.
I’ll give you a heads up before you scroll down. The photo is of a naked woman. Yep, naked. Still willing to look?
Let me tell you something else about the naked woman you are about to see: she’s a breast cancer warrior. The body you are about to look at has a tapestry of scars. You see, there is a story to be told underneath that red dress.
This week Brisbane woman, mother of four, Beth Whaanga, took a deep breath and did something daring. God, more than daring. “Daring” doesn’t do this justice. What Beth did was allow herself to be completely vulnerable. What she did was extraordinarily, breathtakingly brave and generous and courageous and if I had a bloody thesaurus I would insert 1000 more words.
Because Beth took off her clothes and allowed herself to be photographed by her long-time friend and photographer Nadia Mascot for a project they are calling “Under The Red Dress”. In a bid to educate women about breast cancer. In a bid to start a conversation about how cancer surgeries change your body and the way you feel about yourself. In a bid to say – that woman you see at the school gate, that co-worker in the department near you – it’s entirely possible her body looks like this. It’s entirely possible their bodies tell a story that belies their outward appearance.
What’s Beth’s story? Well she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year on her 32nd birthday. She was later told she carries the BRCA2 gene. So in November she went through a double mastectomy and a total hysterectomy. And now her body tells the tale …