Winged Victory: Altered Images : Transcending Breast Cancer

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9781889169002: Winged Victory: Altered Images : Transcending Breast Cancer
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This new book of photographs of semi-nude women and their partners presents a remarkable portrait of breast cancer survivors, of which there are 1.6 million in the US. These photographic subjects are portrayed not as victims but as women of elegance, strength and sensuousness who have transcended their disease and resultant surgery. The women in the book range in age from their twenties to over eighty-three years. Accompanied by original poetry by Maria Marrocchino and subject written vignettes, these women redefine their self-image: breast missing, altered and reconstructed. As Dr. David Spiegel, the nationally recognized specialist in the therapy of women facing life-threatening illness notes in the foreword, "...they present their bodies and themselves with humor, sadness, vulnerability, honesty. They challenge us to look beyond what is missing, beneath the scar. They evoke admiration: of their beauty and their courage. They do not hide their loss, they transcend it."

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From the Author:

I am still haunted by the memory of the phone call from my mother telling me in a trembling voice that my sister Joanne, still in her thirties, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Following a prolonged heroic battle to survive she was to eventually die from that disease. Two decades later I anxiously faced a surgeon in an antiseptic hospital waiting room as he uttered the dreaded words, "Your wife has breast cancer."

In my career as a physician I have many times had the sobering responsibility of delivering the news of a cancer diagnosis to patients and their loved ones. However, I was not prepared for the overwhelming effect that breast cancer in two close family members would have on my life. I began to see the disease in a new light. I learned that anxiety about survival, initially the most important worry, can give way later to a new unease both in the survivor and her partner. The women may begin to cover her nakedness fearing a spouse's averted glance, or turn away from the reflection in a mirror that unremittingly reminds her of fears of diminished femininity. A partner withdraws a hand to avoid touching a scar where once was a graceful curve. Lovers draw apart, an absent breast now a barrier to their intimacy. A fianc quietly turns his back and walks out of a cancer survivor's life. These fears about body image, femininity and sexuality are understandable in a society that is bombarded by media messages of centerfolds, push-up bras and silicone implants-messages that erroneously imply that a perfect breast is the requisite icon of the feminine essence.

With the support of my wife, Stephanie, now a 12 year survivor and one of the subjects in the book, I undertook this photographic project hoping to show that a woman's fundamental nature is not dependent on anything external; the loss of part or all of her breast is not a threat to her being.

The short narratives in the book, written by the women and their partners, are included as in important part of the message. With no substantive editing they come right from the subjects' hearts, printed as written. The beautiful poems, written especially for the book, were created by Maria Marrocchino, a first-time published poetess.

In my other career, that of fine art photographer, I have been photographing women for a decade and a half, but it wasn't until I started this project that I began to truly understand the many elements that make a woman's image complete. Now it is my hope that these pictures, poems and personal vignettes will reveal the persistence of a woman's beauty, strength and femaleness in all of its complexity, even after the transforming experience of breast cancer.

About the Author:

As well as being a fine art photographer, Art Myers is a physician specializing in preventive medicine and public health. He graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and received his post-doctoral degree in public health from the Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University. Although largely self taught in photography he has studied in workshops with Annie Leibovitz, Arnold Newman, Larry Fink, Sally Mann, Joyce Tenneson and other noted artists. His photographs have been exhibited in many sites across the country and in Europe. The series of photographs in this book resulted in Myers being selected as one of "The Top 100 Photographers", in the Ernst Haas Annual Photography awards in 1995.

Maria Marrocchino works in advertising in New York City. She has been writing poetry since she was a child. This is the first time that her poems have appeared in a book.

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9781889169019: Winged Victory: Altered Images: Transcending Breast Cancer

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ISBN 10:  1889169013 ISBN 13:  9781889169019
Publisher: Photographic Gallery of Fine Art..., 2009
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