Screw You Cancer, by Sáshenka Gutiérrez
Special mention from the Jury of the 26th edition of the Luis Valtueña International Humanitarian Photography Award of Médicos del Mundo.
The series tells the story of Sandra Monroy, a 36-year-old breast cancer survivor. She lost her breasts to the disease, which was detected in early 2021. After the diagnosis, doctors explained to Sandra that a double mastectomy was necessary because, although the cancer was only in the right breast, if she kept the left breast, there was a 50 to 60 percent chance of the disease returning.
The doctors informed her that her breasts could be reconstructed, but that implied at least two operations in the next three years, and one more intervention if she opted for nipple reconstruction. She would have to repeat that procedure at least every 10 years to replace the implants. Reconstruction is not an easy process; many women have chosen to live without breasts, as well as the challenges, physical, emotional, and social, that come with the decision.
Sandra went into surgery on July 5, 2021; she decided not to reconstruct her breasts and created the activism platform: “Screw You Cancer”, where she supports women breast cancer survivors who go through some type of mastectomy and choose not to have breast reconstruction.
She decided to live without breasts in a system that equates breasts with femininity, to give her body a new meaning and thus exercise one of the first rights as a woman which is freedom over her body, putting the oncological before the aesthetic: “Breasts are not what makes us women.”
Sandra was armored by this situation, and today she openly shows her scars to tell other women, not only those who have gone through this terrible disease, that breasts, a size or a measurement do not define who you are, because beauty goes beyond the standards that society has established. We should all feel equally proud of who we are and how we are.
Mexico City, Mexico, 2021.