MORE THAN OUR SCARS
"Too many times, you see breast cancer or other cancer survivors captured in portraits revealing their scars,
and while we admire those women who embrace their scars and proudly show them,
we aimed to take a different approach with More Than Our Scars.
We believe that the scars of a person should not define them, that their cancer should not define their lives, and they agreed with us, whole heartedly.
This project aims to redefine Breast Cancer and its survivors, to show our viewers that
not only can it happen to anyone, but it can happen at any time in your life."
Portrait Series: Michael Roseberg
Portrait Series & Video Production: Amanda Umberger
Kathleen Sutton, Martha Zuniga,
Tath Hossfeld, & Alexis Coffer
Kathleen Sutton was diagnosed with Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer when she was 29 years old and 6 months pregnant with her son.
Because she was pregnant, she ignored a swollen breast for a few months assuming it was her body adjusting to creating breast milk and was misdiagnosed with mastitis, or clogged milk ducts. It wasn’t until she found a lump in her armpit that her doctors diagnosed her with
breast cancer. At this point she was 6 months in to her pregnancy and was told she needed to begin chemo treatments right away.
Her doctor assured her that chemo during her pregnancy would not affect the baby,
but even her nurse was cautious and ordered lots of extra tests.
Because women are often misdiagnosed during pregnancy, chemo treatments are very rarely heard of.
There are some tests you cannot have done during this time, so while they had only seen signs of breast cancer in one breast, her doctors opted for a double mastectomy just in case. She will have to undergo radiation treatment every three weeks for the rest of her life,
but that doesn’t stop her from being vibrant, healthy, happy and an advocate for metastatic breast cancer.
Kathleen wants women to know about metastatic breast cancer, or inflammatory breast cancer, because it presents without lumps. She also hopes to spread the word that you can safely go through chemo while pregnant, her son was born 8lbs and healthy.
Martha Zuniga was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.
Since then Martha, her sister and her mother have all been diagnosed with breast cancer. Having moved to the US from Mexico in 2002,
Martha has worked with Entrehermanos, an LGBTQ Health Awareness Group working with he Latino community.
It was there she met a woman named Ingrid who worked with Susan G. Komen Puget Sound
and how she was able to gain help for herself after her own diagnosis. Last November, after two lumpectomies, she had a double mastectomy.
Martha wants to keep fighting, surviving, and building awareness in the Latino community about health and cancer awareness.
Due to her treatments, she is unable to continue dancing in the aztec fashion, but she still supports her fellow dancers and the heritage.
Tath Hossfeld was diagnosed with Breast cancer at the age of 35 in 1985 around the same time Susan G.Komen herself was diagnosed.
In 1985, there wasn’t much information about breast cancer or any cancer available.
In fact, the pamphlet her doctors gave her to read were from the 1950’s.
She was told that she was supposed to talk to her doctor about her cancer and that was it.
You weren’t even supposed to share with your family members and she thought that was totally wrong.
She couldn’t imagine going home and acting like nothing was wrong with her husband and her 10 year old son.
So, Tath started the first breast cancer support group with a local hospital and started trying to get more and more awareness about breast cancer going, making it okay for people to talk about it with doctors, other cancer patients, family members and others.
Tath knew that she wanted to see her son graduate high school, that was the most important thing to her,
so she opted for a double mastectomy since the other options only offered a five year lifespan.
But, when she opted to get reconstructive surgery, she found out that legislation and insurances would only cover certain breast sizes.
For Tath, that wasn’t much of an issue, but she immediately thought of women who had only had a single mastectomy.
What were they supposed to do? A woman who naturally has breasts over a B-cup weren’t able to get their natural breast reduced to match,
so they were supposed to be lopsided? Tath marched up to the legislative meeting with a bra in hand,
two very different sizes cut in half and sewn together, to state her case for all breast cancer survivors to show the truth behind their bill. Clothes and bras don’t come this way, so why should they be asked to live this way?
Legislation was changed to create a bill allowing women to get reduction surgery to match due in large part to this.
Tath has been a part of the Susan G. Komen Foundation since it first began, having been on one of the first committees for the group.
To this day, she still participates in the 60 mile walks to support Breast Cancer Awareness and Research
and will continue to do so until her body can no longer do so.
One of the youngest women in our project, Alexis Coffer was first diagnosed when she was 23 years old,
then about 5 years later, she was diagnosed again. As an identical twin, it was very important for Alexis to undergo gene studies to determine how breast cancer is passed down through family. As of today, her sister is still breast cancer free.
Breast cancer survivors are asked to come back after a 5 year mark to be retested before being deemed cancer free, it was around this time that Alexis moved to Seattle and was rediagnosed. Within her 5 year period, Alexis found 6 tumors,
went through rounds of chemo and radiation, had a lymphectomy and a unilateral mastectomy.
She now volunteers with Komen Puget Soundwith community outreach and is working at a lab studying genomics.