Women share their breast cancer stories in Stella McCartney's latest campaign

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month and designer Stella McCartney has launched a new campaign highlighting stories from women around the world.

Called ‘A Letter To My Loved Ones,’ the new campaign sees 12 women tell their breast cancer stores through letter form and sharing their scars.

The powerful photographs in the campaign have been captured by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario and documentary filmmaker and activist Alice Aedy.

A video that supports the photography explores the women’s journeys from diagnosis to treatment and their lives now. 

The women who feature in A Letter To My Loved Ones are Mel Bastien, Caroline Boore, Emma Campbell, Lizzi England, Leanne Hughes, Jane Hutchison, Keely Joseph, Gemma Longland, Sharon Marshall-Green, Louisa Rasmussen, Toral Shah and Nisha Tanna – many of whom are under the age of 35 and some are young mothers.

Below are short extracts from the letters in the campaign…

Warning: this article contains nudity

Mel Bastien

To her loved ones, she writes: ‘The 11th October 2018 will be the day when life as I knew it was shattered by the words, “I’m sorry, it’s cancer.”‘

Caroline Boore

To her mum, she writes: ‘Seeing you fight cancer so gracefully head on, like you do with everything in your life, gives me strength and courage. You are a warrior. You are MY warrior.’

Lizzi England

Telling her own story to her young daughter Violet, Lizzi writes: ‘She had to believe she was going to survive cancer and that her baby would be born happy, healthy and loved more than you can imagine.’

Sharon Marshall-Green

To her children, Sharon writes: ‘I’ve taught myself to love me, discrepancies and all. No one is perfect, but it’s important to accept ourselves for who we are and work on the bits of us we don’t like.’

Toral Shah

To her best friend, she writes: ‘You are a true friend and sister and give me the space to be my full authentic self.’

Jane Hutchison

To all women with breast cancer, she writes: ‘Surrender yourself to love. Healing is a process rooted in love.’

Keely Joseph

To her children, she writes: ‘Use the medium frying pan. Add a little oil.’

Louisa Rasmussen

To her mother and brother, Louisa writes: ‘I’m trying the best that I can to heal, to be healthy and happy and lead an easy life.’

Gemma Longland

To her kids, Gemma writes: ‘You were my motivation, my strength and my reason to get out of bed every day and keep going.’

Nisha Tanna

To her children, Nisha writes: ‘I learnt that despite what challenges we face, in whatever form, we can rise and shall realise our greatest dreams.’

Emma Campbell

To her daughter, Emma writes: ‘Cancer has shown me how incredibly strong I am. Cancer has taught me resilience. Cancer has brought my life into sharp, vivid, technicoloured focus.’

Leanne Hughes

To her body, Leanne writes: ‘The determination you have gives me no choice but to match it. You give me hope as your show me your potential every day.’

Lynsey Addario commented: ‘I don’t think people realise how many young women are diagnosed with breast cancer; many of these women were initially even sent away by their GPs. 

‘I think it was so hard to hear these stories, but the recurring theme was that every woman was so incredibly optimistic, resilient and really had tried to find a kind of strength in their cancer. They streamlined their lives and only surrounded themselves with people who bring them happiness and positivity, and that was incredible to see.’

Some of the brand’s key products to feature include the Louise Listening post-operative bra, the adidas by Stella McCartney mastectomy sports bra and the limited-edition Whitney Popping lingerie set in pink.

The campaign is more important that ever as charity Breast Cancer Now estimates that during lockdown nearly one million British women missed their mammograms, due to breast screening programmes being paused.

Breast cancer is one of the UK’s most common cancers, with over 55,000 women and 350 men diagnosed with the disease annually. 

Full letters and interviews from the campaign are available to view here.

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