As a cancer survivor and previvor, my work of videoart entitled BRCA2, is 8 minutes long and includes the top consultant clinical genetic oncologist Dr James Mackay, a very brave breast cancer survivor who is currently battling ovarian cancer, and many other participants. Please click to the right to see a very short 20 second trailer published on Vimeo.
By sharing my experience I hope to encourage others to make informed decisions about their health and potentially save lives.
Part of the process of preparing myself for surgery, included a blindfolded yoga breast celebration session for friends and family of all ages and abilities. Saskia Griffiths, my friend and yoga teacher wrote the following account:
"A dear friend of mine, who was extremely supportive when I was in need, asked me about a month ago what I thought of helping her with a booby party.
Odd thought, however, I must say that the more I travel, explore and do with my life, the more wonderful things and ideas my friends come up to share with me and I’m thrilled to be the person they think of when it comes to whacky-wild-out-of-the-box ideas.
As well as being a non-judging, supportive wonderful friend, Natasha Hall is the mother of 2 bright young beings and a successful international creative artist. Her talent is captivating and the way her mind thinks to express and share creativity and ideas inspires me.
During her journey with skin cancer a couple of years ago, I was travelling and we held skype yoga sessions which Natasha found very helpful in her recovery from her treatment and surgery. I loved being able to support her in this way.
Natasha lives a health-conscious life. I recently heard the statistic to be close to 50% of us developing some form of cancer. It’s not a surprising figure if we take into consideration the amount of free radicals our cells are exposed to and battling against.
Following her skin cancer recovery, Natasha received the news that she had a 90% risk of developing breast cancer.
She has taken the very brave choice to remove this life threatening risk from her future.
Natasha breast fed both her children and she wanted some kind of sacred ceremony / celebration for them to remember her healthy, natural breasts.
Having attended a few of my blindfolded yoga sessions in the past it was a real honour that she thought to come to me with her brilliant idea of combining a booby party with blindfolded yoga. This would make something taboo, deeper and something deep, a little lighter. Women who are facing this incredibly tough decision are holding booby parties in honour of their boobies all over the world.
The experience has taught and humbled me ever so much. I am grateful to Natasha for sharing her inspiring strength, her ability to face the hard truth with soft, powerful, determination and her wish to share her story openly in the hope to spread awareness, help and inspire others to not feel alone in their personal battles.
We set our yoga mats out in a circle and shared that we were all virgins of booby parties. I experienced the most powerful and impacting moment when we weren’t too sure how to start and Natasha announced she would be the first to remove her top. Everyone in the circle proceeded immediately by showing their support, despite feeling shy and vulnerable, diving in to the deep end, in unison and removed their tops at the same time as Natasha revealing bare chests. It was a very touching, beautiful moment. To show and accept ourselves as we are. To support Natasha in her decision and to simply be there for her.
We are all here to support each other. To love each other through life’s challenges. Not to judge but to hold hands. In strength. No matter what our blockages are.
It was a shame that some women who said they would attend the event, felt too intimidated to show up. It was touching how many did. The kids loved the event. There were booby balloons, booby inspired nibbles and drinks and face paints for afterwards. Natasha felt loved and supported and the children enjoyed a really wonderful, fun moment to remember during her imminent recovery from the surgery.
Natasha will get a call 5 days before the surgery. She’s waiting for the call.
We are not alone. This life can be so damn tough at times.'
I was very honoured to have been invited to particapte in the 1st International European Congress on the BRCA gene mutation on the 5th of November 2015.
This video documents in only 20 seconds my preparation and recovery from a preventative double mastectomy with reconstruction, after diagnosis of the BRCA2 genetic mutation. It is part of a much bigger project and I would like to thank my participants, especially Opal Brown for her inspirational words.
Spoken in English with subtitles in Spanish
A work of videoart entitled BRCA2 was selected for inclusion in the second International Festival of Short Films about Art and Illnesses (2FICAE, 2-5 of March 2016, Institute of Modern and Contempoarary Art, Valencia)
Please check out the documentation of the BRCA2 exhibition, the associated press and the workshops at the Gabriel Vanrell Gallery, Palma de Mallorca 2016.