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.
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
Marie-Claude Belzile is 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 has written 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 cares for her extended animal family, draws, and reads to satisfy her lifelong intellectual curiosity.
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.
Would you like to join the Council, or nominate someone? Contact us!
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