Saturday March 23, 2019

The Survivors Of Breast Cancer And Their Beauty

When fighting breast cancer, Listman said, it's helpful to feel beautiful.

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Breast Cancer
Maggie Kudirka, the "Bald Ballerina," who travels the country educating young dancers and adults about metastatic breast cancer, inspired Linda McCarthy's Survivors photography project. VOA

When thinking about people with cancer, the images that first come to mind are usually dark, sad and depressing. But that’s not what photographer Linda McCarthy sees. With her “Survivors” project, her goal was to put a face on breast cancer, photographing women who survived or are being treated for the disease.

“I wanted to photograph them as whole women not the parts that they see of themselves,” she explained. “So, I didn’t want scars, I didn’t want anything like that. I wanted them to see how beautiful they are. They are survivors, they change their outlook on life and say, ‘Yes, this is me, and I’m a survivor.’ So, you see the transformation going on while I photograph them.”

One of the survivors is Cheryl Listman. The single mother was diagnosed with stage 2-B breast cancer in 2013, and told she had a 40 percent chance of survival. Thinking about her two kids made her determined to not give up and to keep fighting the disease.

The Survivors photography project fit nicely with her attitude.

“I work with women, I help educate women who are going through the journey and just help them navigate through the medical side of it,” Listman said. “When she (Linda McCarthy) asked me, I thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s just another impact that I could have on women.’ And then also I would be able to look back and see how far I came.”

Focusing on the whole woman

The idea of featuring breast cancer survivors came to McCarthy when she was searching for a ballerina to photograph for her portfolio.

“I was introduced to Maggie, who is known as the Bald Ballerina,” she recalled. “She was diagnosed at the age of 23 with stage-4 metastatic breast cancer. So, I met her and asked if I could photograph her, not as a ballerina, but as a beautiful girl who happens to have breast cancer.”

Breast Cancer
Linda McCarthy’s photo of Cheryl Listman, like the other photographs in the Survivors project, includes a life-affirming phrase. VOA

Through the lens of her camera, McCarthy says she has always sought to capture the spirit and essence of her subjects.

To do that, McCarthy offered each of the participants a consultation session. During that time, they opened up and talked about themselves, giving her a chance to get to know them.

The women were also given a makeover. By the end of the session with makeup artist Victoria Ronan, many were surprised — and delighted.

“In some cases, it’s been a very long time since they had makeup on, it’s been a very long time since they had done something for themselves,” Ronan said. “I had a lot of women look in the mirror and just start tearing up. They couldn’t believe how beautiful I’ve made them look.”

Also Read: Wireless Device to Detect Heart Dysfunction in Cancer Survivors

When fighting breast cancer, Listman said, it’s helpful to feel beautiful.

“It’s very important because when you go through a horrific journey and treatment, you don’t feel beautiful,” Listman explained. “There is a lot of things done to your body physically, there is a lot of things done to you emotionally, mentally, things that you will never forget that are not pretty. So, when you get to that point in your journey, you feel like a woman again, you feel beautiful, you feel like you’ve accomplished the mission.” (VOA)

Next Story

Childhood Maltreatment Strongest Risk Factor for Depression in Adulthood: Lancet

The findings are to develop or improve risk-adapted interventions for people susceptible to a worse long-term clinical outcome

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depression
Fourteen had a remission period of less than two months and could therefore be regarded as having chronic depression. Pixabay

Facing trauma in childhood can significantly change the structure of the brain, which may result in severe depression which could even be recurrent in adulthood, say researchers.

The results from MRI scan images suggest that both childhood maltreatment and recurring depression are associated with similar reductions in the surface area of the insular cortex, part of the brain that regulates emotion and self-awareness.

This reduction in the brain could make a future relapse more likely, said the study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal, which found childhood maltreatment one of the strongest risk factors for major depression in adulthood.

depression
Depression is among the leading causes of disability in the U.S. and is being closely monitored by health authorities amid rising suicides nationwide. Pixabay

“Given the impact of the insular cortex on brain functions such as emotional awareness, it’s possible that the changes we saw make patients less responsive to conventional treatments,” said lead researcher Nils Opel from the University of Munster in Germany.

The study included 110 patients aged 18 to 60 years. Of the 75 patients who experienced a relapse, 48 had experienced one additional episode, seven reported two episodes, and six experienced three episodes.

Fourteen had a remission period of less than two months and could therefore be regarded as having chronic depression.

depression
This reduction in the brain could make a future relapse more likely, said the study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. Pixabay

ALSO READ: 4 Indian-American Teenagers Awarded for Inventions in Environmental Issues

The findings are to develop or improve risk-adapted interventions for people susceptible to a worse long-term clinical outcome.

Future psychiatric research should therefore explore how the findings could be translated into special attention, care and treatment that could improve patient outcomes, the study noted. (IANS)