Seeing mastectomy scars 'the worst day of my life'
BEFORE today, Lana Rhodes refused to show her bi-lateral mastectomy scars to her mum, sister or even her best friend, devastated at the reality of her surgery after she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
Ms Rhodes shares her scars in an amazing act of bravery in Saturday's Weekend magazine.
"The first time I saw my scars, was the worst day of my life," she says. "I looked down at my chest and it just felt alien. And for a very long time afterward I couldn't look at them and I couldn't let anyone else see them.
"It is not a pretty thing, it is not normal and I feel like I am disfigured. I feel less than a person and it is not how I am meant to look.
"I want people to know, that while I am grateful to be alive, it is a hard slog. People think it will be like Angelina Jolie - you go in, get your boobs cut off, have reconstruction and leave with perky new boobs but that is not the reality at all. I will never have nipples again, I can't afford reconstruction."
This year some 15,600 women will receive that same news. 42 women every day.
But while breast cancer is the most common form of the disease diagnosed in women, Lana's case managed to stand out.
Just shy of her 27th birthday, she was extremely young to be fighting a demon that finds most of its victims in women aged between 50 and 69 years of age.
"It's funny to think I was having my breasts removed to save a life that was never ever going to be the same again. I never really fully understood that. I just thought I would get my boobs cut off, get reconstruction, it would be all good, it would all go back to normal. I never understood the ramifications of what it would do to my life forever," she says.
See the results of Ms Rhodes' brave photo shoot and read her touching story inside Weekend magazine on Saturday.