One in nine
One in nine women will contract breast cancer in South Africa. This is a modified statistic as it takes into account the high prevalence of HIV and TB that raises the mortality rate of our population.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2008 and this project was made in response to my illness, its treatment and my survival. I am the ‘one in nine’ and by becoming the active subject of my own investigation, it helped me to understand my own condition and integrate it into my life.
Susan Sontag wrote when diagnosed with breast cancer, “the disease itself, arouses thoroughly old-fashioned kinds of dread. Any disease that is treated as a mystery and acutely enough feared will be felt to be morally, if not literally, contagious”.
Sontag,S. 1978. “Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors”. U.S.A.: Farrat, Straus and Giroux, p6.
Belial: by Lize Albertyn du Toit
Cleanse: by Sikaa Hammer
The presence of absence: by Dale Washansky
All other photographs by Tracey Derrick
Here is a review that was done on some of the work, for the Bonani Africa 2010 Festival of Photography by Kirsten Palitza for IPS News.
I am woman series on SABC3 national TV - my work and Leap of Faith during breast cancer
As a documentary photographer, I have always positioned myself relating to and interacting with my subjects. I document other small communities, the marginal people. Suddenly, through my illness I became a member of a marginal group.
My way of coping with this was to analyse my own story through images, which helped me to reach out for solidarity from others who, like myself had at some point during their illness felt outside the experience of everybody else.
Through creating self-portraits that I took during my illness and portraits of eight other breast cancer survivors, I have used photography as a tool to explore the world around me and it has worked as a visual diary. Their eight portraits, together with my own symbolically represent “one in nine”.
More resources are needed to support the one in nine women who are affected by this disease. Statistics show that it is increasingly affecting woman across cultural boundaries and ages – cancer knows no financial, colour or class distinction.
Debate could result in more support and education about prevention and early detection. Informed people live longer, are more productive and live richer lives.
The story is about medical body transformations, changes in thoughts and feelings around our identity, new ways of living with death (instead of fearing it) and most of all, stories about survival.
By exhibiting this work, I hope to deepen the knowledge about breast cancer and show that the value of trauma is a chance to find oneself.
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