The Council of International Advocates consists of leaders in the flat advocacy community worldwide who have come together cooperatively to advance the interests of women going flat after mastectomy. The Council presents a unified message to stakeholders across the globe that aesthetic flat closure deserves parity.
Other International Flat Advocacy & Support Resources
Joanna is a breast cancer survivor since 2019 when, at the age of 41, an impromptu mammogram discovered triple-positive invasive DCIS cancer throughout her entire right breast which had spread to her lymph nodes. Following her unilateral mastectomy, she lived for 18 months as a uniboober but became increasingly dissatisfied with her appearance and remaining saggy left E cup breast.
After her active breast cancer treatment concluded in 2020, Joanna was certain that reconstruction was not what she wanted. She opted for prophylactic mastectomy of her remaining left breast and at the time she had no idea she was receiving an aesthetic flat closure. She was blessed to be under the care of a patient-focused surgeon who never once pressured Joanna into opting for reconstruction.
In the same year as her diagnosis, Joanna became a co-administrator of the Sunshine Coast Breast Cancer Friendship Circle, a social group for breast cancer survivors who meet regularly to connect and offer each other friendship, support and understanding. She is an active member of her local breast cancer community and receives enormous satisfaction from supporting others in their survivorship. She is a state representative of Can At 40, Do at 45, a national campaign advocating for Australian government changes to more actively promote free breast screening services to women aged 40 years and older. Her remarkable diagnosis story has been published in That’s Life! magazine and the Sunshine Coast Daily where she proudly shares the story of her life-saving mammogram and her satisfaction with choosing aesthetic flat closure.
Juliet has worked as a librarian, researcher, in sports development, is a mother of two adult children and has been married for 30 years. Right now she’s a writer, campaigner, flower grower and flat topless model. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2016 at the age of 54, and had a left mastectomy, chemotherapy and targeted drug therapy. She decided against breast reconstructive surgery despite this being the only post mastectomy treatment option offered to her, and was left with a GG cup right breast. She was very unhappy being a “uniboober” and asked her surgeon over 18 months to remove her right breast so that she could be symmetrical and aesthetically flat. He finally agreed and she’s now very happy living flat, without breasts.
Juliet started to campaign for women to be given all the options post mastectomy so that they can make informed treatment choices. As part of this she did a series of topless photo shoots to increase the visibility of women living flat. This culminated with her working with Dove and her flat topless image being shown globally including on billboards in Times Square & Piccadilly Circus as part of the #ShowUs campaign, and in a prime time television commercial which aired in North America and Europe. She’s also appeared in the national press, on UK TV and radio, and on numerous podcasts.
Find Juliet at her blog: Blooming Cancer
University of Toronto
Abigail B. Bakan is Professor in the Department of Social Justice in Education (SJE), at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Canada. Her research is in the area of anti-oppression politics, with a focus on intersections of gender, race, class, political economy and citizenship. Her experience with breast cancer, and flat denial, led her to share her story in “Going Flat: Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and the Politics of Choice”, Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, May 2020: 39-63. Other publications include: Israel, Palestine and the Politics of Race: Exploring Identity and Power in a Global Context (2020) (with Yasmeen Abu-Laban); Theorizing Anti-Racism: Linkages in Marxism and Critical Race Theories (co-edited with Enakshi Dua); and Negotiating Citizenship: Migrant Women in Canada and the Global System (with Daiva Stasiulis).
Pascale Contrino was born in 1972 in Marseille, France. She earned her degree in conservation & restoration of painted works in 1997, and then worked as a painting restorer and artist. In 2017 Pascale was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in 2018 she had a partial mastectomy. She was in treatment until March 2019 – chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, radiotherapy. In April 2019, Pascale created the Facebook page Complètement FEMME – l’audace d’être entière après une mastectomie (“Completely Woman – the audacity to be whole after a mastectomy”).
In June 2019, in partnership with Valerie Blondeau, she founded the nonprofit organization Complètement FEMME to support Amazons and enhance their image. In July 2019, the organization created the first prototypes of Amazon swimwear. The following year, the organization marketed the first sports shirts and bras for Amazons to wear without prosthesis. Pascale is now dedicated to both her artistic work and to the work of Complètement FEMME = find her work online and on social media. Her paintings of Amazons have been featured in art exhibits throughout the world (Tahiti, Switzerland) and are helping transform the narrative about women with mastectomies to one of beauty and positivity.
Kerstin learned she had the BRCA1 gene mutation when she was just 28 years old after a genetic test prompted by her extensive family history of cancer. She first decided to have routine MRI scans with the idea that early detection could spare her from unnecessary surgery, but the stress of the testing made her change course. Then she came across Catherine Guthrie’s memoir, “FLAT: reclaiming my body from breast cancer” and made her final decision. Now she’s flat, happy, and living her life free from fear of cancer.
Grit was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in January 2016 and shortly after learned she had the BRCA1 gene mutation, putting her at very high risk for recurrence. During neoadjuvant chemo, her surgeon offered reconstruction as the default and her only choice was what KIND of reconstruction. Her instinct was to reject reconstruction, but everyone around her seemed to expect her to reconstruct. Finally, she had a moment of clarity: “It’s my breasts or NOTHING!” She began searching online for support but found nothing. When she told her surgeon she’d decided to go flat, the surgeon’s response was “You want me to mutilate you?” Luckily, Grit met a flat woman in a BRCA support group who gave her the confidence to stick to her guns, and she has been flat and happy with her decision ever since.
Heike’s mother and sister were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother wore prostheses religiously, and her sister opted for implant reconstruction before passing away shortly after from metastatic breast cancer. They never spoke about their experience nor showed their scars. Two years after her sister passed away, Heike was diagnosed and discovered she had the BRCA2 gene mutation. As a single mother of a ten year old, she wanted to heal as quickly as possible. And she didn’t want a foreign body inside of her. Heike has never once regretted her decision and accepts her new body. She wears her flat chest proudly to show other women that there is no shame in breast cancer and to honor those whose lives have been taken by the disease.
Ngozi is a lawyer turned entrepreneur and breast cancer advocate. Her journey down this path started after her Stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis in 2016 when she found a lump and went on to have a modified radical mastectomy. She was given the option of reconstruction, but wasn’t in the mood for more surgeries.
She went online and discovered that there was no support for Nigerian Women living with Breast Cancer. She started sharing on her personal page and progressed to starting @whatcancernaija, her mission control tower on Instagram where she educates women on the need to be breast aware, proactive about their health and take charge of their bodies as knowledge is power.
Ngozi is on a mission to demystify breast cancer in Nigeria and passionate about changing the narrative behind the disease by getting women to understand the need to face breast cancer head on armed with the necessary information without fear or stigma, as well as championing the cause for patient experience in the management of breast cancer.
She enjoys traveling and taking pictures to show that breast cancer is not a death sentence and her own way of showing gratitude to God. She has decided to soar after her breast cancer experience. She is married with 3 kids.
She runs The Judah Foundation for Breast Cancer where main focus is on Survivorship and Life after breast cancer.
Her end goal is a world standard breast cancer center across regions in Nigeria. Confession: She loved her scar and didn’t understand that aesthetic closure was a thing. All she knew was that her surgeon did a fantastic job and that is the story behind how she started talking about what she calls clean lines after surgery. She is glad that it is now a cause for advocacy.
Sofia (Fia) Jigrud
“I chose to have my breasts removed at age 36 when I got triple-negative breast cancer. In the same vein, I became aware of my gene mutation so the choice wasn’t difficult. Initially, I did a mastectomy with direct reconstruction that was both painful and unsuccessful. Unfortunately, my muscles are still injured from that surgery, and I can no longer do strength training as I used to love to do. When making my initial choice, I felt a great deal of pressure to reconstruct and did so without reflecting on what I myself wanted, or on what consequences it could have for my strength and mobility. Many surgeries later, I became flat… and I finally felt free. And whole. I want to show that it is actually okay to be flat, that we are neither ugly nor mentally ill from our flatness. A flat chest is a normal body shape!”
“Why I opted out of reconstruction after my diagnosis at age 40: I have always had very small breasts and first had to fight for the surgeon to take the entire breast rather than just doing a lumpectomy. It is not possible to do a “piece of cake” sized operation on a breast that is only one piece of cake large, I explained. When my surgeon finally agreed, he pushed me to choose implant reconstruction and to augment the healthy breast so that I, as he said, would “look like a real woman.” I was outraged. Why would I want to cut up my healthy breast too? And I absolutely did not want to do any reconstruction! My femininity isn’t tied to my breasts. I now live flat, single-breasted and actually love my body more now than before.”
“In 2018 I was diagnosed with a very rare breast cancer, which eventually led to a single mastectomy. I immediately knew I wanted to go flat. I didn’t want anything foreign put in my body just for ‘the looks’. Being half flat was the new form of my body and it felt good! I was fortunate to have a wonderful surgeon who asked me only once if I was sure to go flat and fully accepted and supported my decision. She did great surgery and I look awesome now.
“In the years that followed, I spoke with other Dutch women and discovered that going flat wasn’t as accepted as I thought it was. I suddenly realized there was almost no information in Dutch, let alone a place for women to contact and support each other. That is why I founded Ronduit Plat in November 2020. A community to support (half) flat women and the women who are in the decision-making process. We gather information and put it on our website to diminish the information gap.
“In the Netherlands, the standard procedure after mastectomy is breast reconstruction. Flat is often not even offered, and women have to push hard to get what they want and deserve. It is important to create awareness that going flat after mastectomy needs to be a fully accepted choice. Ronduit Plat started out as a one-woman show, but more and more women find their way to us. I’m very proud of ‘my ladies’ joining me in putting flat on the (Dutch) map.”
Would you like to join the Council, or nominate someone? Contact us!
Remembering Our Sisters We Have Lost to MBC
March 22, 1987 – December 20, 2020
Marie-Claude Belzile was a 33 year old writer, poet and advocate living with her wife and partner of eight years in Montréal (Québec, Canada). She earned her degree in anthropology from the Université de Montréal in 2014 and wrote many socio-political articles for the independent journal L’Esprit libre. Her book, Penser le sein féministe, published in 2019, explores the experience of going flat after mastectomy from a feminist perspective. In it, she discusses how pervasive sexist bias affects women throughout their cancer journey, including the pressure to reconstruct their breasts.
Marie-Claude was first diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2016, followed by a metastatic diagnosis in 2018. When her ongoing chemotherapy treatment made work untenable, she started to advocate from home under Tout aussi femme (“not less of a woman”) on Facebook. In her spare time, Marie-Claude cared for her extended animal family, drew, and read to satisfy her lifelong intellectual curiosity.
Marie-Claude passed away from metastatic breast cancer (MBC) on December 20, 2020. She will always be in our hearts. Her advocacy work and wisdom will live on to bless future generations of women.
Not Putting on a Shirt is a 501(c)(3) organization advocating for optimal surgical outcomes for women who choose to go flat after mastectomy.
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