Beth Whaanga, Aussie mom posts cancer pictures on Facebook and loses a ton of friends.

Beth Whaanga, Aussie mom posts cancer pictures on Facebook and loses a ton of friends.

In a bid to raise awareness as to the ravages of breast cancer, Brisbane, Australian mother of four, Beth Whaanga took to posting harrowing naked images of herself on Facebook. The result? Hundreds of friends de friended her.

In a bid to raise awareness as to the ravages of breast cancer, Brisbane, Australian mother of four, Beth Whaanga took to posting harrowing naked images of herself on Facebook. The result? Hundreds of friends de friended her.

Rather than sit back and take on a breast cancer diagnosis quietly, Beth Whaanga did the unimaginable. She took to posting images of her scarred body following a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery. Her intent was to provoke awareness and discussion of the cancer that affects so many women. Yet to her surprise and dismay the mother of four was met with a backlash of condemnation.

It all began when Beth Whaanga was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 32nd birthday (great birthday present right?) where doctors found Whaanga had the BRCA2 gene.

The gene, the same one actress Angelina Jolie fretted she had inherited from her mother and led her to double mastectomy for preventative reasons was the same one that Whaanga was now dealing with.

After having decided to also have a double mastectomy to ward off the growth of the cancer, the Brisbane mom took to teaming up with friend and local photographer, Nadia Masot and showcase the ravages of the condition.

Beth Whaanga, Aussie mom posts cancer pictures on Facebook and loses a ton of friends.

Soon after having taken the images Whaanga took to posting the images on her Facebook page whilst at the same time warning friends of the confronting images.

Posted Beth Whaanga: ‘These images are confronting and contain topless material,’ 

‘They are not in any way meant to be sexual. The aim of this project is to raise awareness for breast cancer. If you find these images offensive please hide them from your feed.’

And then there were these comments on the web that made me wonder as well:

I do however find these pictures beautiful, they show courage, and someone who has lived a very real life.

I just wish we would all stop making our lives about appearances. It’s really who you are inside that counts. If we could teach our kids that there would be a whole lot less obesity, anorexia, body anxiety, and probably a whole lot more nice people

‘Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal but under their clothing sometimes their bodies tell a different story.

Whaanga added that self-examination was vital. ‘It can happen to you,’ she wrote.

But not everyone was in favor of Beth Whaanga’s decision to post the revealing and admittedly disturbing images.

One commentator Andrew Young told Facebook was not the platform for the photographs.

‘I personally do not agree with posting confronting pictures on a site where people do not get a choice whether they wish to view it, as happened to me when scrolling through my news feed,’

‘This may also occur to children scrolling through their feed.’

Beth Whaanga in turn responded by telling everyone was entitled to their opinion, while the photographer, Nadia Masot defended the photos by reminding people that cancer did not discriminate.

Except to say people discriminate. And for all sorts of different personal reasons that sometimes not even they are fully aware of.

Posted Nadia Masot: ‘For the people who think it’s ‘just not for them’ may just end up being the one who will wish one day they’d payed a bit more attention when it happens to them, only worse because they chose to be offended instead of listening,’

‘Ignorance is never a better option.’

Despite the backlash, Beth Whaanga told The Courier-Mail she was glad she posed for the photos:

And after the surgery I feel that I will live longer, and that is the best thing for not just me but for my family,’

‘I really wouldn’t want to take away from people who are fighting that fight against breast cancer; I was really fortunate given my family history and gene mutation that my cancer wasn’t as aggressive as others have suffered.’

Despite the images being reported to Facebook, Whaanga has been advised the images will not be removed.

Hoping others will share their cancer stories, Beth Whaanga and Nadia Masot are looking for people to take part in the project.

Ms Masot said there had already been some interest from those wanting to take part.

‘We’re hoping to turn it into an exhibition and coffee table book,’ she said.

She said while the images were confronting, the project’s message was the focus.

‘We’re concerned about getting out the message of being vigilant and responsible for our own bodies through confronting imagery,’ she offered.

‘It was always going to be a bit controversial and we’re completely OK with people not being comfortable with that.’

Nadia Masot has since told the project’s success exceeded its expected reach.

‘We just decided to do a campaign – we never anticipated the reach so suddenly,’ she said.

‘Even in my own photography I was thirsty to work on something more meaningful – cancer is an experience with life changing results.’

Beth Whaanga, Aussie mom posts cancer pictures on Facebook and loses a ton of friends.

And then there were these thoughts on the web that made me wonder as well:

You are a brave an courageous women and how many others would go into hiding rather than show the world the realities of life, wish only the best for you.

I do however find these pictures beautiful, they show courage, and someone who has lived a very real life.

I just wish we would all stop making our lives about appearances. It’s really who you are inside that counts. If we could teach our kids that there would be a whole lot less obesity, anorexia, body anxiety, and probably a whole lot more nice people.

What a brave and selfless project.  I am sure your poignant and beautiful photographs will prompt many woman to check themselves and realise that youth is not immunity.

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  • Chuck

    My colon cancer photos coming soon…you have been warned.

  • ddavel544

    ‘Hundreds of friends de friended her’. Don’t see that as a big problem. People on social sites such as Facebook have thousands of “friends” on their pages. The majority of them they don’t know from a hole in the ground. Most people have real life friends from work, school or as neighbors and relatives. All the others are schmuks that “like” their pages and ‘friended’ them. And would know them if they bumped into each other on the street.

  • Cynderella

    I would never befriend anyone for cancer…doesn’t cancer do that by it’s self.

  • likalaruku

    Poor thing, she has the body of Meg Mucklebones. Most of those people probably friended her so they could send her requests to play Facebook games.