It’s not easy being courageous; and friends aren’t always what you think them to be. These are the two lessons Beth Whaanga, a cancer survivor learned the hard way.
The 32-year-old mother of four was diagnosed with cancer having BRCA2 gene (the same as Angela Jolie) last year.
What followed was a grueling treatment involving a double mastectomy, reconstruction and hysterectomy, which were done to prevent her from developing breast cancer.
In an effort to create awareness Beth started the Under the Red Dress Project and published pictures of how her body had changed after surgery.
It was a courageous move and one she took to spread awareness and help others. But the criticism she faced for it reflects how unwilling people are to step out of their comfort zone.
Whaanga was accused of promoting pornography and almost overnight she lost more than 100 friends on Facebook.
Her sister Emma Rayner, rightly puts it when she says, "It represents the truth about cancer and what measures some women will need to take to survive. I think it's brave that she can show her scars and I think many more women will hopefully check their own bodies every now and then."
Traumatic as it may have been, this intolerant reaction has enabled her weed out people who unable to accept anyone who may be different from them.
And while there are naysayers, the support she has received has been overwhelming too.
Here are just some of the messages on her page right now:
“Today I showed your page to a 91 year old who has her own scars from Cancer surgery, she is so proud that someone else is a survivor and is willing to show the world their scars.”
“I had my last chemo treatment October, 2012 and my last Radiation treatment December 2012. Everyday when I look in the mirror I am reminded of my breast cancer. I admire your courage and strength. You are beautiful.
“My mum battled breast cancer on and off for 16 years. I love what you are doing to raise awareness. You are an amazing strong woman!”
So, all in all, we’d say she is better off than before.