Actress Angelina Jolie made headlines around the world last year when she revealed that she underwent a prophylactic mastectomy after learning that she had the BRCA gene.
Carriers of this gene have a greater-than-average chance of developing breast cancer. (In some cases, it may be as high as 85 percent depending on family history.)
Like Jolie, many “ordinary” women have opted to have their breasts surgically removed to reduce their risk of developing cancer. In Britain, 25 of these brave ladies dubbed “The BRCA Babes” have gotten together to pose for a calendar in order to raise public awareness about hereditary breast cancer and raise money for charity—The National Heredity Breast Cancer Helpline.
Per their mission statement:
Most people are understandably terrified to learn they may have inherited a gene fault giving them an 85% chance of developing breast cancer. The choices seem stark. Do we do nothing, be screened regularly, take preventive medicines… or take the plunge and almost totally eradicate the risk by electing to have surgery pre-emptively? That suggestion to some is at best ‘drastic’ and even unacceptable.
This calendar has highlighted some 25 gorgeous girls who have taken this step. They have felt enabled to move on with their lives and are now aiming to reassure others that ‘it’s not so bad’. Their pictures are stunning. The stories emotive, but also hugely uplifting.
According to one of the participants, Helen Smith, who was interviewed for the UK-based The Daily Mail, she “loved doing the shoot” and the photos were well-received by her whole family including her husband.
When asked how she feels about her body and reconstructed breasts, Smith replied:
“I love my body even more now than I did when I was younger, and crucially, I no longer have to fear it.”
Hopefully, women who are faced with the unenviable choice of opting for this procedure or not will see that having one’s breasts removed does not mean that their bodies will become disfigured or that they will lose their sexuality—if these models are anything to go by.
Check out the video below which shows the making of the calendar, and visit the website for more images.
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Editor: Cat Beekmans