Samantha Paige is revolutionizing how we think about the aesthetics of breast cancer.
The 41-year-old cancer survivor can be seen showing off her double mastectomy scars as she gets a floral chest tattoo in Equinox’s 2017 “Commit to Something” campaign.
The campaign, shot by celeb fashion photographer Steven Klein, is meant to confront bold issues rarely explored in advertising — in Paige’s case, her decision to embrace a new perspective on beauty after undergoing a mastectomy.
“I knew that this (campaign) was an opportunity to use my 20-year journey of learning to love my scars, internal and external, to inspire others to do the same,” Paige told Yahoo Canada Style.
After successfully overcoming thyroid cancer in her early 20s, Paige tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation, which can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. She planned to have a preventive double mastectomy to lower her risk of another cancer diagnosis at some point before turning 40, but she ended up making the decision sooner than anticipated.
“When my daughter was born, I realized the time to proactively act had arrived at age 32,” Paige said. “As a young cancer survivor and new mother, all the monitoring for my breast cancer risk was (causing) too much anxiety and worry. I wanted to be healthy for my girl and do anything in my own power to make that happen.”
“It became a choiceless choice for me,” said Paige, who underwent the operation in January 2008.
Paige eventually decided to have breast implants. She was hesitant about the surgery, and asked about implant options other than silicone or saline, but was told that those were what made most women “happy” and feel “normal.”
But after being diagnosed with an MRSA staph infection in 2015, she decided to have them removed last year.
“Personally, I never felt right with the implants in my body,” she said.
Now in her 40s, she has come to a place where she loves her body. She describes her scars as beautiful badges that remind her of what she chose to go against.
“If one person sees my image and feels more bold and brave in the telling of their own story, I will sleep better at night,” she said. “This (campaign) is not just about women or breasts, but more directly about the commitments we make to ourselves in order to experience more happiness, wellness and freedom.”