Breast cancer survivor stars in four topless photos to document the stages of her double mastectomy and show others they don't need to be 'scared' of the procedure
- Florida actress Aniela McGuinness, 32, underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer
- In researching what to expect, she was horrified by the faceless photos of maimed breasts she saw online, so she created her own beautiful ones
A woman who had a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer has documented her journey with a beautiful photo series.
Florida-based actress Aniela McGuinness, 32, was actually in the process of arranging a preventative mastectomy because she discovered she had a genetic mutation that predisposed her to getting breast cancer, when she received the news that she was, in fact, too late.
'Three days before I actually scheduled the mastectomy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,' she revealed on her YouTube channel.
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Show of strength: Hollywood, Florida, resident actress Aniela McGuinness, 32, documented her double mastectomy with a stunning topless photo series, starting with a before photo with her natural breasts
Baring all: Aniela discovered she had breast cancer just three days before scheduling a preventative mastectomy because she discovered she had the genetic mutation that left her at high risk of the disease
After receiving the news, Aniela went about doing her research and found rows upon rows of images showing the results of mastectomies - nipple-less bodies captured in the most unflattering fashion.
'You see your future - and it's scary,' she said. 'I did not want other women to have those as the only images that they saw of mastectomies.'
With that in mind, Aniela decided to go about creating a photo series that would show the journey in a more positive light.
'My goal for these photos was to create a mastectomy series that gives people permission to look at mastectomies without shame, or sorrow but with joy and humor,' she told The Huffington Post. 'The spoon full of sugar method.'
Making a difference: After researching mastectomies online, Aniela was left scared by the photos she witnessed, so decided to create a photo series to help women see the beauty in their struggles
In pieces: For her first post-surgery installment of the series Aniela was styled as the Bride of Frankenstein
The moment on film: In a video accompanying the series, she explained that she 'wanted women to see the beauty and the pain' she felt in losing her breasts
With the help of her fellow Floridians at Blast 'Em Photography, Aniela came up with a way to tell each stage of her story through imagery, starting with her own - topless - version of Rosie the Riveter, where she showed off the natural assets that she was about to lose.
'It was empowering and it made me love my breasts so much more,' she said. 'It was the best way to send them off.'
For Aniela's first post-surgery shoot, the team went for a Bride of Frankenstein theme to express how she felt 'cut up' and 'pieced together'.
She wore a tall black wig with a shock of white running through it for the photo, and had make-up artist Brynn Berg place stitches along her collarbones and jawline for extra drama.
'I wanted women to see the beauty and the pain and what that moment felt like,' she said.
After the surgery, Aniela was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and, as a result, lost her hair. That combined with the hard, plastic expanders the actress had placed in her breasts after surgery, made her feel, 'like I was a mannequin'.
Plastic princess: Aniela felt 'like I was a mannequin' after chemotherapy left her bald and the expanders in her breasts made her body feel alien to her
Team effort: A make-up artist added fake joints to Aneila's body to transform her into a storefront doll
End of the road: The final photo in the series shows Aniela without any added effects, showing the final reconstruction of her breasts
So, for the third installment of the photo series, Aniela donned a smiling, vacant expression and was made up by artist Tiffany Alfonso with faux joints on her shoulders and neck to give the appearance that she was made of plastic.
For the last photo, which Aniela described as her 'done with chemo, done with cancer shot', the young woman is shown with a natural look, some of her hair having grown back and her skin bare.
In her hands, she holds a pair of silicone nipples.
'The reconstruction is finished. They are jelly silicone teardrop-shaped,' she explained. 'I decided not to get my nipples reconstructed.'
At the end of the video, an emotional Aniela explained how she made the series 'out of love for other women going through this'.
Aside from the photo series, Aniela is also working on a documentary about her journey, which she describes as 'an hour long honest and inspirational documentary based on my one woman show'.
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