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Woman’s cancer scar photos prompts online backlash

Shereen Dindar
Shine On
February 12, 2014
Beth Whaanga
(via Facebook)

A powerful set of photos have surfaced online showing a woman's double mastectomy, hysterectomy and navel reconstruction scars.

The 32-year-old behind these photos, Beth Whaanga, is the latest woman to receive backlash for posting images of her breast cancer scars on her Facebook profile.

The Australian mother of four has had over 100 people "defriend" her after seeing the images -- some of whom reported her to Facebook, citing the images as offensive.

“That's okay, everyone is allowed their view – that's what social media is," she tells The Courier-Mail.

Yet it was clearly not Whaanga's intention to offend. She was posing nude for the Under the Red Dress project, which aims to raise awareness about breast cancer and the scars that are hidden under women's clothes.

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"Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal but under their clothing sometimes their bodies tell a different story," Whaanga writes in the photo album's description.

"I have exposed myself to millions of people, and if that gets one person to check their body then that's what I wanted," she explains.

Whaanga was diagnosed with the disease on her most recent birthday and opted to undergo a double mastectomy in November after discovering she had the BRCA2 gene. The gene makes women significantly more susceptible to the illness and became well-known when Angelina Jolie shared that she had it.

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Shortly after Whaanga's mastectomy, she was scheduled for a hysterectomy.

Instead of hiding her scars in shame, she decided to go public about the disease, and we applaud her for it.

"The old and the young, age does not matter, self examination is vital. It can happen to you," she writes.

Whaanga is far from the first woman to receive backlash for posting such personal photos.

Early last year, a Seattle woman's mastectomy chest tattoo photo went viral after Facebook tried to remove it. And a few months later, an Ottawa woman's mastectomy chest tattoo photo also went viral for the same reason.

This time, it appears that Facebook plans to keep Whaanga's breast cancer photos up.

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