Sue

I was due to have a mastectomy and, as I've done life drawings, I wanted a record of what I looked like with two breasts because I knew I wasn't going to look like that any more, so I started drawing myself. The drawing, showing a marked arrow just beneath my collarbone, was the day after I'd gone to the hospital. The surgeon actually drew that arrow on me presumably to make sure that they didn't remove the wrong breast. It seemed like it was the surgeon's first mark and that's what I'd call that picture if I had to title it. This was the first thing they did to me, put a great big arrow on me. When I came out of the hospital, I wanted to record the process of my recovery and while I still had the bandages on I did this other drawing. My face does show a bit of what I felt like at the time. That was nearly two years ago now. I'm really glad that I did them. I feel very nostalgic for my left breast. Even now I do wonder if there was any way I could have kept it. I'd like to do another self-portrait of how I look now, and how I feel that I look. Especially when my own personal mental image of how I looked then was really distorted from reality. I felt I was really, really deformed.

The workshop has definitely made me think of lots of ways of presenting images of how I feel. I wanted to show how I can't show my chest off any more. I can't even wear a bra all the time so I can't wear clingy clothes and I can't wear low cut things - I didn't have much cleavage anyway but I found that when I was out in the evening or at parties I was offended by other women showing their chests. It seems that everybody is wearing something clinging and sticking their tits out and I can't do that. I had never thought twice about it before. I feel the isolation that I'm in this position and no one else is. I thought about it as an image but as I was only here for a couple of days I had to find a way to do it very quickly. I managed to find enough material in magazines to produce this. I was lucky to find the image at the bottom which is me hiding my chest. It looks a bit like me and I really like the fact that the small image is monochrome whereas all the others are colour, and that it was quite a useful way to show how I do feel isolated and different to everyone else, and all these girls around the outside, who are all smiling and showing their chest in some way. It was
very lucky to find the words, to do with being surrounded by people but not feeling part of the crowd. To show how it feels when you've lost one or both breasts, and to feel that everyone is rubbing it in when you are surrounded by people, who are obviously very proud of their breasts. There is the loss of freedom to wear what you want, I like clothes and now I can't wear what I'd like to. I can remember tearing them out and ripping out the words and the anger, which is why it is surrounded with red.