Sixteen cancer patients are to show their scars as part of a new project showing the ‘gritty and raw reality’ of the disease.
Photographer Ami Barwell has captured the men and women for the Defiance project which has seen the photos released as part of Stand Up To Cancer.
The joint fundraising campaign, from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, is aimed at showing strength and solidarity against the disease, despite the changes to their bodies
Cancer patients Julia and Donna (pictured left and right) bare all as they take part in the Defiance photoshoot for Stand Up To Cancer
Thomasina, 45, (pictured) was diagnosed with stage three invasive breast cancer at 20 years old and said the ‘secrecy’ and ‘mystique’ around seeing her mastectomy scar added to the ‘perception of fear’ around the disease
Ms Barwell said: ‘Cancer isn’t pretty, it can be dark, painful and destructive. But we aren’t playing to cancer’s rules. These people are strong, beautiful and, most of all, defiant.’
She added how the project was an ‘act of rebellion’ and follows on from her Mastectomy series in 2017 which was inspired by her mother who had a mastectomy after having breast cancer twice.
The photographer received emails from women across the globe who said her photographs had given them strength. They were the first pictures the women had seen of women post-mastectomy which showed them as ‘beautiful, sexy, strong and beautiful’.
With this response, Ms Barwell ‘knew’ she had to continue raising awareness and empowering people through photography.
Samantha (pictured) exposes her intricate tattoos as she sprawls across in the studio for the Stand Up To Cancer photoshoot. The images taken throughout are ‘so powerful and really move you to challenge what it means to have been treated for cancer’, according to Stand Up’s charity head Simon Harrison
Tasha Jilka, 27, who was featured in Defiance, said she had to build a thick skin over nine years after her neuroblastoma diagnosis before her 18th.
The cancer ‘completely changed’ her face and ‘massively impacted her confidence’ but she now uses it as a ‘symbol of strength’ and everything she has been through. She says she is standing up to cancer by ’embracing [her] new normal every day’.
Mark Douglas, 39, from London, displays a neck scar from his thyroid cancer surgery in the series and revealed how the way it altered his voice had a huge psychological impact.
Stella and Steve (pictured left and right) are challenging people’s ideas of cancer patient’s body image by taking part in the shoot. Stand Up To Cancer is ‘all about showing cancer who’s boss’ and Steve says he has ‘really channelled’ this by taking part
He said he was ‘thrilled’ to be part of the project because ‘this disease comes in all shapes and sizes and I want to show others that we can all be defiant in our own way’.
Deborah James, 38, also known as Bowel Babe on social media, is living with stage four bowel cancer and found the photoshoot empowering as she wants to be ‘seen as the woman I was before’ and sometimes still wants to ‘look sexy’.
After taking part in the campaign, she has learnt to appreciate her body for being ‘strong and resilient’.
Deborah and Doug (pictured left and right) give an unfiltered and honest perspective of living with cancer by stepping in front of Ms Barwell’s camera. The photographer ‘knew’ she had to continue raising awareness and empowering people through photography after receiving positive messages from women who saw her Mastectomy series in 2017
Steve McAllister, 67, from Cardiff, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and was left feeling concerned about the scar he would be left with after his mastectomy.
But now he does not worry and said: ‘I’ve completely embraced my scar, it’s as much a part of my body as my arm or my leg. Stand Up To Cancer is all about showing cancer who’s boss and I really channelled that when taking part in this shoot.’
While a lot of women survive their cancer and ‘live comfortably with their new body image’, the public image of the disease has not caught up with this, according to Thomasina McGuigan.
Angela and Sherry join the campaign and are captured in atmospheric shots which aim to show how people can live comfortably with their body post-cancer and their mastectomy
The 45-year-old was diagnosed with stage three invasive breast cancer at 20 years old and said the ‘secrecy’ and mystique’ around seeing her mastectomy scar added to the ‘perception of fear’ around cancer.
Just like Mr McAllister, she has accepted the body marks as a ‘story of survival’ and an ‘important part of who [she is]’.
Nicki and Alison (pictured left and right) pose of Ms Barwell’s second cancer-related photoshoot after she was initially inspired by her mother’s cancer. The photographer’s mother had a mastectomy twice and inspired a photo series two years ago
Tasha and Alice-May (pictured left and right) are striking and show their natural beauty for the photoshoot in partnership with Stand Up To Cancer – that has raised more than £62 million to support 52 clinical trials and projects
The images taken are ‘so powerful and really move you to challenge what it means to have been treated for cancer’ and the patients’ defiance ‘encapsulates what Stand Up To Cancer is all about’, according to charity head Simon Harrison.
Stand Up To Cancer funds cancer research and to date has raised more than £62 million to support 52 clinical trials and projects.