Photos show real people with cancer to take apart glossy celebrity campaigns

‘The use of glossy celebrities and happy, smiling models just doesn’t reflect the reality of what we, the cancer patients, and our families have to endure.

‘Before my diagnosis last year, I simply thought that cancer awareness campaigns served a purpose to raise money for charities. I never looked at them and felt educated on the cancer they were supposedly supporting.

‘Now that I have cancer, it seems like every other advert I see or hear is one for a cancer charity. I’m now tuned into what they’re saying and how they portray the disease.

‘I feel that so many of the campaigns miss the mark when it comes to representing the cancer community, or in encouraging early detection.

‘The majority of campaigns are money centric, targeting the ‘healthy’ population to donate money. So, the campaigns are glossy, unoffensive, even playful. But when you’re going through cancer treatment, that’s the last thing you want to see.

‘When I saw this #Bosombuddies campaign, I felt angry and disappointed.

‘I was completely disengaged from it as it didn’t represent me or others I knew. Once again, models, celebrities and Instagram influencers were being used above real cancer stories in order to sell clothes.

‘The wording was offensive – ‘two is better than one’ – how does that make a breast cancer patient feel? It’s utterly ridiculous and cruel.

‘After seeing the campaign, I was energised to tell people the truth and to stop charities getting it so wrong. In order to build awareness of cancer, we need to show the disease and not hide it behind glossy adverts.’

Vicky had started sharing her unfiltered experience of cancer on her Instagram, @gammy_tit, but her frustration with the #BosomBuddies campaign made her want to do more.

Within three days she recruited 38 men and women, all diagnosed with cancer, to gather for a photoshoot – all to show what real people with cancer look like.

Participants ranged from 26 to 57 years old and represented different types of cancers, fronted by models including Rachel Cooper-Kennedy, Lisa Fry, Laura Hughes, Nichola Hewitt, Emma Fisher, Eleni Welding, Zoe Robertson and Vicky herself who show what a true cancer body looks like.

The photos capture people smiling, posing and baring their scars.

‘If people really saw the pain, the suffering, the scars, stoma bags and hair loss, then they might be more likely to check themselves, and more likely to donate to charities. So, we decided to do a photoshoot of real cancer bodies,’ said Vicky.

‘I spread the message primarily through Instagram and Facebook, on @gammy_tit, and then it snowballed from there.

‘We want campaigns to stop pretending cancer is fun, pink and fluffy. Celebrities should stand with us, not for us.

‘Also, don’t dominate the spectrum with only the trendy cancers, such as breast cancer. We want to make sure charities and corporations include the not-so-sexy cancers, such as bowel, lung, anal and bone.

‘A picture or a story of a real cancer body will be more powerful than a glossy, blonde celebrity playing with her friend’s hair for a breast cancer charity.’

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