Of Scars

I met two amazing women today– Eli and Kate.  Together they put together “Of Scars” — a photo project celebrating women with scars from breast cancer.

I became interested in this project last time around — and this time I’m planning to model.  It seems rather brave to participate in a public art project by showing my breast cancer scar — but really, it’s not.

First of all, Eli and Kate are great — really great — fun, funny, sensitive, thoughtful and creative.  We had a great conversation that wandered far and wide — and always came back to ideas about beauty and courage — which is what they want to celebrate with their project.

The big idea is to create portraits of women who aren’t afraid to show their breast cancer battle scars.  The samples they showed me were all beautiful photos, some were raw, some refined, many thoughtful and all  thought-provoking.   Each photo captured the spirit of the woman in a beautiful and unique way.

Kate and Eli are very concerned about not making “Of Scars” about the scars.  They take great pains to ensure that the project does not exploit the women involved — so the images are not on the web and are only publicly displayed at one event.

The big question is why I’d want to do this project?  First of all, I think it’s a project worth supporting — and the best way I can think of to support the project is to participate.

The real and deep reason is that the last year or so has been about freedom and boldness — and what could possibly be more freeing or bold than showing my scar to the public?  I’ve always been open about my breast cancer — with my students, friends, colleagues and family.  I’m not shy about being “lop-sided” when I take off my bra — I’m comfortable with my own scar and I want others to see the way breast cancer has made me a stronger, and perhaps better person.

Having cancer made me see myself and my life in a fresh way — it was a re-set button on my life.  It freed me from some ruts and ways of thinking that hadn’t always been positive or fun — and made me see that life really is short, so it’s better to be bold and fearless than not.

Having cancer was scary — and fighting it made me free to take bigger risks, to risk being happy when the implications of failure are there as well — once  you’ve faced down cancer (knock on wood), very little else is really, truly, frightening.  Anybody who has had chemo, who has an oncologist, who has spent any time in the waiting room of a cancer clinic can tell you that becoming a “cancer survivor”as your identity can be quite easy.  I fought that every step of the way– and what I love about “Of Scars” is that it celebrates the women and not their status as “cancer survivors”.

I’d also like to show my friends and family how bold and free I’ve become.  I think Kate and Eli are just the women to help me do it.

3 Responses

  1. I think it’s awesome and I admire you for do it!

  2. […] we met with an incredible woman named patty, and she went home and wrote about the meeting here. after the meeting my mind was racing with ideas that we want to try in the project. every single […]

  3. Very nicely said. Being an Of Scars model does give you boldness and freedom. I look forward to seeing your photographs and celebrating with you. XO!

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