Cancer: Faces of Bravery, Faces of Fear

by Bill Brenner on February 21, 2014

The photos tell the tale clearly. Beth Whaanga, mother of four, has been through hell. She has the scars to prove it. And when she decided to show the world, people on Facebook unfriended her.

Mood music:

Whaanga has been in a long and brutal battle against cancer. Multiple surgeries have left her body mangled, though when fully clothed, the scars are hidden. She chose to reveal those scars in a photo series called “Under the Red Dress.” According to The Huffington Post, she lost 103 Facebook friends over it.

“When Beth posted these images on Facebook, 103 of them UNFRIENDED her immediately,” columnist Rebecca Sparrow wrote. “Some felt the images were inappropriate or even pornographic.”

Some say the people who did so are jerks, uptight prudes who prefer that life’s unfair twists remain hidden from view.

I prefer to think that they just acted on fear. They see the danger to their own lives and those of their loved ones in the photos. The first thing most people do in the face of fear is turn and run away. We’ve all done that. I certainly have. The hope is that over time we learn to turn back and face the fear. In time, I think at least some of them will.

What Whaanga did was brave and beautiful. She shows us that despite the damage she suffered, life goes on. She continues to live and love.

I know too many people with cancer. Some are distant friends, some are in my immediate family. They’ve shown bravery in the face of cancer in their own ways, but I hope Whaanga’s photos offer them additional inspiration and hope.

red dress

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather February 21, 2014 at 8:57 am

Bill, thank you so much for bringing this to my attention.
Do you see that Beth has done exactly what you do in your blog? You let the world see your scars. From what you’ve said, it seems like your friends reacted better than hers.
There’s a lot of food for thought here!

Gail February 21, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Heather, you are so right!
I hear complaints that Facebook shows only the happy, successful moments, vacation pix, the equivalent to an online “(my!) life is good” t-shirt.
Kudos to Beth for being a beautiful, outrageous fighter! I am wondering if the frightened friends are very young, since at twice their age I notice that time has done some interesting graffiti on my
once shiny new body!
We all fear illness, age, hard times. There is nothing kinder to share with each other than our experience, strength and hope.

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