It's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month- a time to raise awareness, but most importantly find out what you can do to detect early signs of Breast Cancer.
With 1 in 8 women likely to develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, many of you will know somebody who has lived with this illness. For some, a mastectomy is the only way to treat the cancer, and it is those women who visit us before their surgery to make a sculpture with particular importance and poignance.
Today we find out more about Alison's* experience of a breast casting before her double mastectomy.
"I have now lost both my breasts, I had cancer in both. I had no choice but to get rid of them but I still have my ‘old’ breasts in permanent form...I know that some people don’t understand why it's important to have a lasting reminder of my pre-surgery body, but to me it means everything. I don’t feel sadness or regret looking at how I used to be, I feel a renewed strength and energy that I can’t really find words to describe."
It was an online mastectomy support group of which I am a member that alerted me to The Edinburgh Casting Studio, and the lovely Poppy and Luis. A lady there had been for a casting prior to her mastectomy and looking at her cast I knew it was what I had to do before I lost both of my breasts.
I was due to be in Edinburgh (400 miles from home) the weekend before my surgery. I had been scheduled on the Monday, and with nothing to lose but little hope, I called to see if there was a chance that I could have a cast taken on the Saturday.
"Poppy and Luis were so understanding and so very kind, they contacted other clients and juggled their busy diaries to accommodate me. I didn’t realise until this point just how much it meant to me to have a lasting impression of my pre-mastectomy body."
"My body tells the story of my life; rather than criticising myself I began to see my strength written in my body"
"From the minute I arrived they made me feel comfortable and at ease. I don’t have the most aesthetically pleasing body, mostly due to cancer treatment and carrying twins but they made me see myself in a different light, my body tells the story of my life; rather than criticising myself I began to see my strength written in my body. Due to my illness, casting my torso took much longer than normal but I was never made to feel unwelcome or ‘difficult’. I was looked after every step of the way."
"I can’t thank [The Edinburgh Casting Studio] enough for understanding the urgency and importance of this casting and for their care and support through the process. My breasts may no longer be attached to my body, but I feel in some way that I haven’t really lost them. Thank you both for playing such an important part in my journey."
To find out more about National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, click here, where you will be able to access useful resources and information about breast cancer, including an app which aids early detection.
*Names changed to protect identity.