The SCAR Project – breast cancer not just an October thing!

SCAR Project exhibit is running through November 6th at the

OpenHouse Gallery
201 Mulberry St., NYC.

  

I was lucky enough to be invited to the private opening party.  I met the  photographer David Jay, who’s efforts have brought the story of many young women into the public eye.  He portrays the beauty of his subjects but the beauty goes beyond skin deep.  Each showing so much emotion and love of life that only someone who has heard those dreaded words, “I’m sorry, you have breast cancer” can exude.

© David Jay

Carmen, the woman I photographed over 2 years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer is the common thread and responsible for our paths crossing.
David photographs young women because he wants to educate people to the fact that breast cancer sees no age boundary.  And he wants it to hit home.  His images are shocking.  Cancer can strike just as you enter womanhood.  For some before they even had a chance to think about bearing children, some after.  Their lives are just really beginning, how can someone so young have to face their mortality.  How could this happen – to young, vital, otherwise healthy beings.  No one has those answers and even some doctors do not persue extensive tests on young women because they didn’t think they were at risk.  Sadly the National Cancer Institute  recommends mammograms for women aged 40 and up.
For every women pictured, the companion brochure tells their personal story.  The images and words together are haunting.
Their journey is different, and yet the same.  The fear, struggles, hope and love of life binds them together.  Being photographed helped to empower them and make them feel beautiful.

That is the basis of my personal project:  Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer.  I wanted Carmen to look at herself and to understand that a scar is just a line drawn across a body.  Losing her breasts did not diminish her beauty, did not take away any of her sensuality, her strength – she was still the same person inside although the outside package changed.  Society has place so much emphasis on the perfect body and so many women are caught up in it with elected plastic surgery trying to get the perfect boobs, nose, flat belly etc.

Feeling beautiful is not lost on any woman and as we go past the blush of youth it is just as important.  As a photographer, my sweetheart shoots nudes most of them in their 20s.  Their dewey skin glows but that’s only skin deep and fleeting. I am beautiful – and so are women my age… I became my first nude model.  Self portraits, exhibiting emotions as well as sensuality – having lived life made me who I am and I wanted to show that.

It was my artistic sensibility that Carmen liked and asked if I would photograph her nude.  I gave her my card and when she emailed me, she told me that she was diagnosed  with breast cancer and would undergo a double mastectomy.  Would I shoot her before and after.  I knew that I had to help tell her story.

I started a blog and posted a story, about my feelings as a woman as well as Carmen’s.  Because as far as I’m concerned, although I don’t have breast

cancer, I do have breasts, a daughter and now 3 granddaughters so although her fears came to life, my fears are always lingering below the surface.

 

 

For more about breast cancer and it’s effect on women go to my Labor Of Love Pix blog

Mary Durante (Wehrhahn) Youtt

(Ok I still haven’t made the name change but it’s on the to-do list)

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Filed under breast cancer, fine art nudes, labor of love, photography

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