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Woman wearing pink breast cancer ribbon on her blouse.

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Anna Beckingham wouldn’t have dreamed in a million years that she would be posing topless. However she arrives at a studio, removes her sweater, then her tank top and then her bra, and without hesitation or embarrassment bares her breasts for a photographer.

Beckingham who’s a 46-year-old mother of two, isn’t scared that thousands of people will see these photos. In fact she wants people to see them and she wants them to see that her breasts don’t look like one another.

Beckingham posed for photographer Julia Holland, where Holland wrapped a swath of hot pink, silky Georgette fabric around her shoulders, framing the left breast, the natural one, and the right breast, which was reconstructed after a mastectomy.  In 2007 Keeping Abreast was founded by Beckingham, another breast cancer patient and a nurse who specializes in reconstruction because they want women who’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer to talk to other women who’ve been through it to see what they might look like on the other side.

Beautiful. Feminine. Complete.  She said “It’s really important that these portraits capture the journey that women go through with their healing. It gives you some power back in what is a very powerless situation.”

So far, 50 women have posed for Holland in a classical style. The finished portraits have toured around various locations in England, and this week the topless photos have ended up at an unlikely destination: the venerable halls of Parliament.

Holland hopes lawmakers will understand what women go through after a breast cancer diagnosis, or after being told they carry the breast cancer gene and have to decide to remove their breasts so cancer won’t set in.


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