Highlighting and amplifying the voices of the flat advocates who blazed the trail and laid the foundation for those that followed.
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Nikki “Trip” Tripplett was diagnosed with multifocal breast cancer at age 36, in 2015. She had a strong family history of breast cancer, and had the full battery of treatments – chemo, single mastectomy followed by contralateral mastectomy, radiation, and more surgery. Trip lives in Texas with her longtime partner, Unique, and is a runner, influencer, entrepreneur, and breast cancer advocate. In 2018 she walked the runway during NY Fashion Week 2020 for the #Fearless fashion show by #Cancerland and #AnaOno benefitting Metavivor – she also interviewed other participants. She was interviewed on Houston’s Isaiah Factor Uncensored about her experience. Trip has worked extensively with the Young Survival Coalition to fundraise, provide support programs to cancer survivors, represent her community and get information about breast cancer into the community discourse, and has been featured in both Forbes and Glamour Magazine. Find her on Instagram at @ThatDamnTrip and on Instagram and Facebook @TheCancerPreneur.
April Stearns was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer when she was 35 and her daughter was 3. Prior to breast cancer she worked as a conference producer with a background in journalism. She started a personal blog after her daughter was born and continued writing through diagnosis and treatment. That blog grew into Wildfire Magazine, the only magazine exclusively for young breast cancer survivors and thrivers. Each of the six annual issues focuses on survivorship issues faced by women diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s, 30s, and 40s – self-care, mental health, body image, (in)fertility, and more. April’s work is guided by the principle that sharing our stories helps us all heal and not feel so alone.
Charise Isis is the photographer, founder and executive director of The Grace Project, an ongoing series of portraits that capture the courage, beauty and grace of those who have had mastectomy surgery as a result of breast cancer. Charise’s work helps not only those she photographs but the audience who can identify with those figures and hopefully come to see their own beauty when they look in the mirror and see themselves radically changed. The Grace Project has been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally, including features on the Today Show, Bust Magazine, Medical Daily, and more, and recently achieved 501(c)(3) status as a registered nonprofit.
Chiara D’Agostino [1971-2020, RIP] was a former ESL teacher and dancer, now a prolific model and flat advocate, as well as a vocal advocate for metastatic breast cancer research. Chiara was diagnosed stage III in 2014, and progressed to stage IV shortly after. She originally chose to reconstruct her breasts with implants but explanted after persistent, repeated infections that were affecting her health and quality of life. Chiara modeled for the 2017 AnaOno + #Cancerland NYFW fashion show benefiting Metavivor, and wasfeatured in numerous publications over the last six years: Oprah Magazine, Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, Cancer Today, Health.com, the You Run Like a Girl project, and on the LBBC blog, to name just a few. Chiara passed away in the Fall of 2020, may she rest in peace.
Stephanie Astalos-Jones is an actor, writer, stand-up comic, teacher, pysanky (traditional Ukranian batik egg decoration) artist, and saw-player from Georgia who chose to go flat after her mastectomy in 2018. Unfortunately, her surgeon left her with an egregiously poor surgical result “in case you change your mind” (his words at her post-op follow up), and she then had to fight to get her revision surgery after the first plastic surgeon she consulted told her that “women can’t be flat.” In 2019, Stephanie started FLAT Is Where It’s At, a podcast for and about flatties where she and her guests discuss the specific problems, weird situations, and wonderful freedoms that we experience living the flat life.
Beth Fairchi ld is a mother, tattoo artist, and strong advocate for both reconstructive choice and metastatic breast cancer (MBC). She has been living with MBC since her de novo diagnosis in 2014. Beth initially decided to go flat after her mastectomy to protect her treatment timeline and options. After three years with stable disease, she decided to pursue implant reconstruction. Beth served as the President of Metavivor for three years, continuing to serve on the Board today. She is the creator and producer of Metavivor’s #ThisIsMBC initiative, and is also a Director of #Cancerland. Beth was the first MBC patient to be featured in Glamour, and has also been featured in Oprah Magazine, the Today Show, A Story Half Told, Third Love’s #TheUnderneathProject, and more.
When Barbara Kriss needed a bilateral mastectomy in 2006, she realized that she didn’t want reconstruction but couldn’t find information or support for women who felt like she did. In 2007, she founded BreastFree.org, a non-profit website that presents non-reconstruction as a positive alternative to reconstruction. BreastFree.org has information about living breast-free with and without prosthetics, as well as a flat closure image gallery and stories from women who chose to go flat. Barbara has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Cure Magazine, Paint it All Pink Magazine, and BreastCancer.org.
Ms. Rosewater (Regina Matthews) is a musician, visual artist, dancer and model with a powerful presence and voice. She had a double mastectomy in 2019 and chose to go flat to protect her health and well-being. She started sharing her experience on social media as affirmation and to take ownership of the struggle. Ms. Rosewater has modeled for Ana Ono + #Cancerland‘s 2020 NYFW show benefiting Metavivor. She holds an annual not-for-profit event with live music, art, food, yoga and more in Los Angeles, California – the “ Fuck Cancer Kickback + Jam.” You can find Ms. Rosewater’s work on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and online at ThisIsMsRosewater.com.
Angela “Jersi” Baker of North Carolina was just 32 years old at her original diagnosis (stage 0). She had a single mastectomy with implant reconstruction. Eight years later she progressed to stage IV. Jersi founded her nonprofit, Angel In Disguise Inc., in 2015, to provide transportation assistance and support for local residents in who are undergoing cancer treatment. Jersi is active with several organizations that advocate, promote awareness, and provide support for women of color facing breast cancer, including TigerLily Foundation, SISTA Survivor, and BreastofUs. In 2016, Jersi decided to explant and go flat. She has modeled for the AnaOno and # Cancerland in their annual fashion show benefiting Metavivor.
Juliet Fitzpatrick of the U.K. became an advocate after struggling to have her own surgical choice respected in 2017. She was never offered flat as an option, and was initially denied a prophylactic contralateral mastectomy (to remove the healthy breast). She has a blog about life after cancer, , and her visibility work has been widely featured both publicly in the U.K. and online. Blooming Cancer
Trine Amazon of Denmark began blogging about her breast cancer experience shortly after her diagnosis in 2017. She examines beauty standards and gender norms from her perspective as a “magical uniboober and queer ninja,” and works to promote flat visibility. Trine has worked closely with the hospital system in Denmark to ensure providers are offering the flat option to their patients, and one hospital even now offers flat closure pictures alongside their breast reconstruction gallery. You can find Trine’s work at . TrineAmazon.com
Marie-Claude Belzile of Quebec, Canada began her advocacy work in 2017 after being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, undergoing a double mastectomy, and noticing that medical professionals and the public at large seemed uncomfortable with her new body. You can find her work on her Facebook page Tout aussi femme. Marie-Claude recently published a book in which she deconstructs the cultural narrative about breast reconstruction, Penser le Sein Feministe. She also founded a French-speaking flat support group called Les Platines.
Together with her late friend Barbie Ritzco, Sara Bartosiewicz-Hamilton founded , a nonprofit organization committed to empowering, advocating and providing support for those who are living post-mastectomy without reconstruction. When Sara and Barbie first started their Flat & Fabulous Flat & Fabulous Facebook support group in 2014, they had no idea how quickly it would take off. As of January 2020, the group has over 8,500 members and is still growing.
Samantha (Sam) Paige is an artist, mother, young thyroid cancer survivor, and BRCA-1 previvor who lives in Los Angeles with her daughter. She initially reconstructed with breast implants after her prophylactic double mastectomy, but never felt comfortable with them. After eight years feeling “detached” from her body, she decided to explant and go flat. It was during this period of intense change and renewal in her life that she created , a multimedia documentary project about asking the big questions in life and taking a look at our significant decisions (“last cut moments”). Sam is also an inspirational speaker, and recently published her first book, Last Cut Project (10% of proceeds benefit teen literacy nonprofit Last Cut ). Sam has been featured in Get Lit Equinox’s “Commit to Something” campaign, People, Allure, SHAPE, USA Today, and more.
A pioneer may start as a lone voice in the wilderness, but their passion for and commitment to their cause inspires others to join them. This has led to exponential growth in the field of flat advocacy over the last decade or so. In 2020, we have flat photography projects, full length memoirs, nonprofit organizations, communities on social media, and even gatherings across the world… all made possible by the work of the advocates who blazed the trail. If you know of a pioneer in flat advocacy that you’d like to see featured, please
let us know!
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