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This stunning series of photos depicts the face of breast cancer that you don’t always see

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Anna Raskoff innocently scratched her chest and felt a lump while reading a book on her 37th birthday. “Soon, my stomach fell,” she says. health.. Just three months ago, she asked a gynecologist about getting a mammogram. At that time, I had no symptoms of breast cancer, but I had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was very heavy on my heart.

She says her doctor dispelled her because she didn’t have risk factors that required early screening. (Breast cancer tissue generally recommends that women without risk factors take their first mammogram at age 40.)

However, within two weeks, Ratkopf was diagnosed with triple-positive breast cancer, one of several subtypes of the disease. She had a hard time understanding why breast cancer happened to her. “At some point my chest provided food to my son, and now I didn’t understand why my body was trying to kill me,” she recalls.

Rathkopf, who is now in remission at age 40, will continue estrogen-suppressing treatment for an additional 7-8 years to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. She can never have another biological child, the reality she feels painful.

But while she was able to tell her story, not all women can. “Many faces of cancer do not exist,” she says. With this in mind, Rathkopf and her husband embarked on a new project to record four people from an underrated community suffering from breast cancer. “Young women get breast cancer. Black women get breast cancer. People in the LGBTQ community get breast cancer. But where are they in the pamphlet? It’s always a smiling older white woman,” she said. Says.

The duo has partnered with a non-profit organization called Young Survival Union (YSC) Create a campaign to showcase these underrated breast cancer faces. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended the campaign. “Still, I feel responsible for putting [the photos] there. We need to show other people who are at the limits of their breast cancer conversations, “says Rathkopf.

Yoko, Natalie, Kelly and Patricia participated in the campaign, and Ratkopf met at YSC, a community event and Facebook. It advocates treatments and for themselves, especially in the midst of a pandemic, where people are more isolated and have the highest risk of contact with people with a weakened immune system (generally like cancer patients). Coronavirus tells their own personal story of imagining a different future.

Rathkopf’s current goal is to make her project publicly available. “We want to educate people that breast cancer can happen to anyone. You can save lives by talking to people who are undervalued,” says Ratkopf.

Here are the four stories and photos of the series. Each profile is a powerful personal view for dealing with breast cancer during a pandemic where you don’t always see survivors who look like you.

Yoko, a 42-year-old Japanese immigrant who teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, once survived breast cancer. However, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in October 2019 after reaching that significant five-year cancer-free mark. She is currently receiving chemotherapy and teaches remotely for health and safety.

If you get cancer during a pandemic, it will be difficult to live with the disease. “I feel more vulnerable than ever. Knowing that I have cancer [undergoing] Treatment is endangering my immune system, the situation is a serious danger to me. In a way, mentally, I already felt isolated because of cancer. It was very difficult to handle the stage of this metastatic cancer. I decided to build my own isolation from what was formerly known as the normal world. “

In addition to its isolation, there is a lack of Asian expression in advertising and events surrounding breast cancer. “I feel that the Asian population is undervalued in the world of cancer, because I know that culturally, especially in Japan, the topic of cancer is not open to the public.”

Sephora beautician Patricia, 34, who was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, has been cancer-free for the past three years. To make the experience more difficult is to suffer from multiple sclerosis. “At that time, I was experiencing a lot of multiple sclerosis,” she says. She couldn’t walk or take care of herself, and now she has mobility problems.

The threat of COVID-19 weighs heavily on her. “I experienced an emotional trigger from this pandemic because it only reminds me of my death. And sometimes I can really come to mind about it. So I am myself. I’m just doing everything I can to make sure I keep going. I connect with my loved ones. It keeps me present and encourages me to see the sun through the window. “

Patricia advises other black women with breast cancer. She realized that she had to defend herself throughout the treatment process in order to obtain proper standard treatment and bedside manners. “It is very important to share your experience and share your voice with others so that they can know that they can advocate the best care they need. They advocate. And “this is what I feel. This is my research. This is what I think is the best. Tell me what you think about it.” And the medical professional you are hiring If you’re not sticking to it or answering those questions, find someone to do so. ”

Natalie, a non-binary art therapist living in Queens, New York, was diagnosed at the end of 2019 and ended radiation therapy just as the COVID-19 outbreak struck New York City. For the past five years, 34-year-old Natalie and her partner have saved money in pursuing IVF in the hope of getting a child pregnant. Because of COVID, IVF is no longer their potential.

“The coronavirus pandemic is very stressful for everyone. This is the end of the casket of the idea that I will have a biological child because I have been using tamoxifen for the next 10 years. In his late thirties, he could have stored eggs through in vitro fertilization and took a break from tamoxifen, but no one intends to take anyone for in vitro fertilization during the pandemic. It’s not mandatory, so I started to mourn the fact that the door was officially closed. “

Breast cancer patients who are not straight white women can feel they are at their limits, she says. “The focus of cancer groups has often been very focused on Sith, Straight, and women’s experiences. For example,” This is women’s cancer. ” And it’s not. I haven’t completely identified myself as a woman. I’m strange I’m gay and I’m thinking of myself somewhat. Non-binary. So having access to the online community of my strange friends really helped me during this time. “

Nine years ago, Kelly, now 41, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Living with and being treated for breast cancer causes her depression, but she is determined to address any mental health problems that may occur after her diagnosis.

The pandemic brought her memory of isolated pain during cancer treatment. “Must wear [masks] The outside caused the greatest sadness in me, “she says. I had to discipline my thinking and just say, “OK, you know, this is only part of your life as a whole.”

She is another black American, Imbalanced effects of coronavirus, Be their own advocates when it comes to the treatment and care of COVID-19. “It’s a shame that the health of African Americans hasn’t been taken seriously in this pandemic yet, so it’s time for us to be at the forefront and put it together.”

Kelly is familiar with statistics about being a black woman with breast cancer. High mortality rate for black women From illness, according to the CDC. “Unfortunately, black women have a higher mortality rate than white women, and some women know that they are unfortunately pushed to the medical side when they want to get in and check things out. They are sent home and [doctors say] Oh, watch for a couple of months.. As colored women, we need to fight as hard as we can to take the same approach as all other women in the United States diagnosed with breast cancer. “

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