Earlier this year I was contacted by Tracie, a fellow local homebirth community member. After seeing some of my birth photography she wanted to ask me if I would be interested in photographing her mother, Patty, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and had decided to have double mastectomy. Before that was to happen she wanted to be photographed before she said goodbye to her breasts. Initially Patty had asked her granddaughter to take the images but Tracie thought the moment was worth employing a professional photographer.
Initially I was nervous at the thought and I wasn’t really sure if I was up to it and if I decided to decline the job I had a photographer in mind who I would refer them to. I asked lots of questions of Tracie, about what Patty had in mind for the photos and I also approached other photographers about if they had any experience or thoughts on how to approach the shoot. I grew more confident with my increased knowledge I gained and I became increasingly excited about photographing Patty and getting to know her story.
We organised the shoot and I met Patty, Tracie and 2 of Tracie’s children at Tracie’s property on a beautiful evening in March. Patty was pretty keen to jump straight in and start photographing. As we worked though our poses it became clear to me just how amazingly wise and brave Patty is in the face of her upcoming surgery. I guess up until this point in my life I had taken for granted how important our breasts are to us women. Patty said to me that since she had decided to have her breasts removed she has become so very aware of how her breasts feel; they way the brush against her arms as she moves, the feel of them under her clothes. And we talked about no matter how they look we are just so very lucky to have them.
This shoot, meeting Patty and her family and talking about our breasts and what they mean really made me ponder my own body, my own womanhood, the worth of my breasts even as I continue to nurture my youngest child with my breast milk, but not just for feeding my children, but for how they are valued as women and what it would mean to have them taken away.
About half way through the session Patty’s granddaughter stopped to show her grandmother that she had a new tattoo… ‘Nan’ on her breast with a butterfly. She said to her, “seeing as though you can’t have your breasts, you can have part of mine”. This moment was so very moving!!
Patty is a “Grey Nomad” and travels around Australia with her gorgeous little dog in her little camper van. The surgery has not slowed her at all and last I heard she is enjoying the sun in Queensland!
For more information on breast cancer follow this link to the Breast Cancer Network Australia There you will find links to support numbers for those who may need it and ways to donate to the network or become involved to help out this organisation.
I also wish to say a MASSIVE thank you to Patty for allowing me to share this inspirational shoot with the world.
By Tanya Minotti Photography – Shepparton Maternity, Birth and Newborth Photographer
For session information call 0412673156