In Pictures

Not just pink ribbons: Shocking breast cancer photos show the real bravery of survivors

Not just pink ribbons: Shocking breast cancer photos show real bravery

8 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 ifjrhrhr
Jill Photo by © David Jay
14 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 sgdfh
Emily Photo by © David Jay
15 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 sjkfjtbn
Vanessa Photo by © David Jay
The SCAR Project breast cancer Shante October 2013
Shante Photo by © David Jay
13 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Sara
Sara Photo by © David Jay
10 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Jolene and Candice
Jolene and Candice Photo by © David Jay
11 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Melissa
Melissa Photo by © David Jay
12 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Paulina
Paulina Photo by © David Jay
5 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC_9716
Leah Photo by © David Jay
2 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 092b-Edit
Toni Photo by © David Jay
The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 African-American
Jocelyn Photo by © David Jay
3 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC_3431-Edit
Eliza Photo by © David Jay
4 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC_3735
Barbie Photo by © David Jay
16 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Sylvia
Sylvia Photo by © David Jay
17 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Tamara
Tamara Photo by © David Jay
1 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC5705
Sara Photo by © David Jay
6 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 ghfghfh
Hannah Photo by © David Jay
8 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 ifjrhrhr
14 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 sgdfh
15 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 sjkfjtbn
The SCAR Project breast cancer Shante October 2013
13 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Sara
10 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Jolene and Candice
11 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Melissa
12 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Paulina
5 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC_9716
2 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 092b-Edit
The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 African-American
3 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC_3431-Edit
4 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC_3735
16 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Sylvia
17 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 Tamara
1 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 DSC5705
6 The Scar Project breast cancer by David Jay October 2013 ghfghfh

See the raw beauty, strength and character of breast cancer survivors as captured through the lens of fashion photographer David Jay in The SCAR Project: Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon on view through Oct. 28 at Gremillion & Co. Fine Art Inc.

The exhibit, sponsored by the Pink Ribbons Project, displays through Jay's 35 large-scale visuals a shockingly real world of women patients ages 18 to 35, revealing their determination to win over breast cancer. The SCAR Project is an exercise in hope, healing and humanity and is one of many events recognizing October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

 “For these young women, having their portrait taken seems to represent their personal victory over this terrifying disease."  

Jay's inspiration evolved after a dear friend of his was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29. Within two weeks, she'd had a mastectomy. Jay, who had taken his friend's photo many times, knew he would take pictures of her again — his way as a photographer of confronting and accepting this personal adversity. He also realized shooting for The SCAR Project would be difficult in many ways.

"I wanted the pictures to be raw, honest, sincere," he says in a written Q&A presented with the exhibition. "Yet, I knew why the subjects had come: They wanted something beautiful. They had already suffered greatly and although I desperately wanted to serve them, I knew in my heart that compromising the visual integrity of The SCAR Project for the sake of easily digested beauty would serve no one. Certainly not the people I hoped to be impacted by the images, the public at large who remain blissfully unaware of the risk or reality of the disease . . . anesthetized by pink ribbons and fluffy, pink teddy bears."

Six years later, Jay has photographed more than 100 women for The Scar Project. Four of the subjects have passed away thus far. He still adds images to collection, but later ones tend to be reserved for some of the most unfortunate situations as many of the women recover — and many do not. As the disease progresses, Jay continues to shoot the subjects in their scarred glory. Final photos are then added to the exhibition.

Jay adds, “For these young women, having their portrait taken seems to represent their personal victory over this terrifying disease. It helps them reclaim their femininity, their sexuality, identity and power after having been robbed of such an important part of it.

"Through these simple pictures, they seem to gain some acceptance of what has happened to them and the strength to move forward with pride."

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