As a breast cancer survivor, it’s hard to remember what it felt like to not think about breast cancer … or that being diagnosed at a young age was even possible. That stretch is even harder for me now that I’m YSC’s CEO.
YSC recently created a formal partnership with the Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB), based in Southern California. KAB’s mission is to help eradicate breast cancer by informing young people about methods of prevention, early detection and support. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer to form a partnership, since our two organizations are more powerful working together than separately.
The program that YSC and KAB will be collaborating on is the Treasured Chest Program. This program is all about respecting the beauty of a woman’s body. Until my trip to KAB’s office, I got its impact in concept, but I have to be honest … I didn’t see how cancer could be beautiful … and certainly not my cancer.
The concept of breast casting isn’t new, but everyone does it in different ways, with different intentions. KAB does an incredible job of combining artists and survivors to raise awareness that young women can be diagnosed with breast cancer … and bring the human body’s beauty back to survivors.
This partnership became real for me this past spring in a way I wasn’t expecting.
Shaney Jo Darden, the founder of KAB, asked to cast me when I traveled to KAB’s office to shoot this video to help promote the partnership between our two organizations. I’ll be honest, I hardly slept the night before, I was so nervous.
After a breast cancer diagnosis, you are used to people looking at your breasts. But … what if the outcome of the cast was worse than my perception of my new body? What if my breasts looked strange or not “normal”? Would I be able to handle someone touching my body that much?
In the end, if I was going to offer this program to the women of YSC, then I needed to experience it for myself … so that’s what I did.
The experience was actually invigorating — it made me feel like I was a part of art being made. I felt comfortable and increasingly anxious to see the end result. When we finally finished and the cast was removed, I watched Shaney Jo do the finishing touches as though she was working on a sculpture for all the world to see.
For the first time since my body was altered by cancer, I saw a piece of art. Art that was inspired by me.
Because of the Treasured Chest Program, I saw my cancer create something magnificent, and for that experience, as a survivor, I will always be grateful.
Visit the KAB/YSC Treasured Chest Program page on Facebook.