AN exhibition which showcases body casts from 15 Islanders affected by breast cancer has opened in St Helier.
This is Me, which runs until 30 October, encourages people to ‘Touch, Look, Check’ their own breasts for lumps, swelling or rashes which could be a sign of cancer.
Sponsored by Marks & Spencer, the casts will be featured in their King Street shop windows and in the store’s lingerie department and fitting rooms.
The exhibition marks ‘Pink Month’, or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and is organised by ABC Jersey – a local charity building ‘A Brighter Community’ for Islanders living with the disease.
Fiona Robson, the charity’s chair, said: ‘Each of these women have faced their diagnosis at different moments, undergone varied treatments, and battled diverse stages of this disease.
‘Their collective message? Early detection is paramount. The simple act of Touch, Look, Check (TLC) can be the pivotal factor in one’s fight against breast cancer.’
She continued: ‘Each cast tells a unique tale, but they all share a unified message: the immeasurable value of early detection.’
The handcrafted casts have been created in collaboration with Nicole Le Cornu of Love Casting.
Several have been finished as metallic sculptures, while others have been hand-painted and illustrated with the support of artists Emma Burns-Di Lauro and Jamie O’Neil.
Mrs Le Cornu said it had been an ‘incredible privilege’ to work with ‘these remarkable ladies’.
She continued: ‘It struck me that there was a palpable need for greater awareness surrounding breast cancer and the urgency of early detection.
‘This exhibition is not just about art, but about echoing the powerful narratives of these brave women and emphasising the life-saving significance of awareness.’
Sam Gallie (52), who was diagnosed with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer when she was 43 and is featured in the exhibition, said she had been ‘surprised’ at her diagnosis. The rare type accounts for less than 5% of all breast cancer diagnoses.
She said: ‘I had a rash on my breast for some time, which I ignored. It was suddenly hot and swollen and had been treated with antibiotics. There was a quick referral and biopsy taken. I was diagnosed on the Wednesday and chemotherapy started five days later. I felt overwhelmed.’
She added: ‘I opted not to have reconstruction, because I didn’t want any more treatment, and it’s important to get out that there are people living completely flat and who are OK with it.’
Another woman, also featured, who was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at 31, said: ‘I was a very self-confident woman who enjoyed feeling sexy and embraced womanhood and encouraged other woman to do the same.
‘However, I have now struggled with my self-confidence and self-love due to the visual changes in my body. I am slowly rebuilding that, but it takes time.’