The Big 5 Year Mark

5 years cancer free, 5 years flat and 5 years as an activist.

There have been times when I’ve been thinking that it could be nice to have a “normal” body and I felt weary of the struggle that it sometimes can be to not conform. But the tiredness I experience is only associated with the kind of society we live in and how difficult it can be to stick out and not with how I actually look. I simply think that I look amazing.
Interview in the magazine Tæt på kræft published by kræftens bekæmpelse dec 2022

The day after the surgery, now more than 5 years ago

This year I passed the big 5-year mark, which feels like a somewhat comforting experience. I don’t receive any treatments anymore and the yearly check-up becomes easier and easier each time. I know that statistics don’t work on an individual level, but I still feel a big sense of relief in passing that particular mark. I am indeed still here and I cherish that thought very much. I felt like now was a good time to take a look at what I’ve been up to and how everything is going now, an inventory of sorts. I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to do advocacy since my mastectomy. In the past few years, I participated in several projects that I’m very proud of and grateful that I had the chance to be part of.

What moves me the most and motivates me to keep up the advocacy is every single time someone comes up to me in person or writes to me, telling me that I made a difference in their life. The fact that I’m giving confidence and support in a difficult time for them when they’ve been confronted with disease and big changes in their physical appearance. I always get so touched when this happens; to make a positive change in just one other person’s life is a huge deal to me and an enormous privilege to experience.

Recent picture taken by kræftens bekæmpelse for a series on the body after cancer

So what have I been up to in the past years of advocacy? Actually, there’s been a steady flow of different opportunities where I’ve been able to put forward my message of accepting and celebrating the different bodies we have. A message that specifically talks about the flat option in a breast cancer context, but more generally talks about how we all need to stick out if we can – to make room for those who do not choose to be different but just are. A message that’s about how representation and diversity will gain us all in the end. So here’s a lineup of the activities that have been happening for the last few years.

Nomination and inspiration:

I was nominated in the category “influencer of the year 2022” by the organization Plattnormen, which is working for the visibility of the flat option in Sweden. They had the first Nordic gala celebrating the flat choice and I was very honoured to be nominated together with inspiring people who made a difference in the flatties community.

Another organization working for promoting and informing about the flat option, Not Putting on a Shirt, made a feature about Pioneers in Flat Advocacy that I got to be in, once again finding myself in a prominent circle of people.

It is moving to see how much has happened in the five years since my mastectomy, so many fierce people promoting flat aesthetics and tons of activists that are working hard to make healthcare personnel and others aware of the flat reconstruction as a real choice and not just a lack of choice as it happened to me.

Books:

Two beautiful books that I’ve had the chance to participate in; firstly I got on the cover of the above book by Sarah. The book is a beautiful collection of pictures and stories centring scars and what they mean to people wearing them. The book is both as beautiful in the pictures as it is moving in the text that accompanies each of them.

The second book I was a part of is a compilation of pictures showing reconstructions after breast cancer, including the flat option, all representing a myriad of different stories of mastectomies and different visual outcomes in the aftermath. This book is one-of-a-kind and hopefully, it’ll be accessible for all facing the decision of a possible reconstruction after mastectomy. The book is also accompanied by different relevant topics on breast cancer and reconstructions in general, and it’s an amazing contribution to making good choices in a difficult time when confronted by disease.

Body image in pictures and articles:

“Bodytalks is not about redefining beauty ideals. It’s about letting them go.”

Bodytalks started as an Instagram initiative by Marko to show different bodies accompanied by a personal story – with the ambition to show that many different bodies exist and they don’t all look like what we see in ads and magazines. The personal story was there to show all the things we normally don’t know about a body in an attempt to break down prejudice and shame about our differences.

The magazine Femina made a feature about breasts and what that means to us as a culture and as individuals. Under the headline “Free the Breasts” a lot of awesome people were interviewed about their relationship with their breasts. The aim was both to give space for the breasts themselves – which even in 2022 is a hot topic – but just as much to give a voice to the individuals carrying the breasts, since their experiences are theirs alone.

So what’s next?

And yes – more things are coming up. Even though the cancer is becoming a distant memory, it has forever marked me – both mentally and physically. The impression left behind is something I can’t just put aside and as long as I have the opportunity to do advocacy for a free choice and the ability to choose a flat reconstruction I definitely will. To make my contribution to change the view on what a body should look like and broaden the accepted variety of expressions.

It’s a relatively common thing to have your breast removed, but still a lot of people feel shame when it happens to them. I believe that representation is important and I gladly show myself off so that people can see that you can look this way. I actually think that it’s my responsibility to do that.

A lot of people stick out in various ways without having the choice to conform, so if you have enough energy for it, I strongly believe that you should stick out yourself and thereby give room for others.”
Interview in the magazine Tæt på kræft by kræftens bekæmpelse dec 2022

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