In October 2002, at the age of 35, Phyllis Pigford-Mason was diagnosed with stage-four bone cancer and given a life expectancy of less than one year. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in May 2010, and then found out she had breast cancer in July 2015.
After many weeks of harsh treatments for breast cancer, she underwent surgery to have a double mastectomy to, hopefully, get rid of the cancer for good. Pigford-Mason said she gets a variety of reactions from men who notice her breast removal.
“They say, ‘You cute, but I have to see if my woman had her mammogram.’”
While she enjoys absorbing the various reactions from both men and women, she knew she wanted to do something to show her battle scars.
“I really want to focus on awareness. I was just thinking about all of my scars — I have one big scar on my leg they said would be small, then I have two scars in my breast area, and I knew I needed to showcase them and tell people how important a mammogram is,” said the mother of two and former member of the U.S. Army. “On Facebook, I got in touch with a few people to see if we could make a photo shoot happen. I asked a friend what she thought about a topless photo, and she thought it was a great idea.”
Now at age 49, Pigford-Mason said she is amazed by the amount of response she has gotten from the photo.
“Women who recognize the photo online and approach me tell me thank you and how I’ve encouraged them to get their mammograms done. That was the goal.”
(Photo/Abdul-Shaheed Aaron, Clothing designer/Yemisi Sanni, Makeup artist/Chaka Pryor.)