Breast Cancer Survivor Will Walk 1,000 Miles ... Topless (VIDEO)

paulette leaphartWe all want to believe in the possibility of a happy ending for those diagnosed with breast cancer, but the reality isn't always pink bows and picture-perfect recoveries. That's why one survivor is walking 1,000 miles topless and documenting her journey: to shed light on what it really takes to beat the disease, and the scars it leaves behind.


Forty-nine-year-old Paulette Leaphart was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer last year, which required her to undergo an emergency double mastectomy. Not a candidate for reconstructive surgery, Leaphart was left with dramatic scars across her chest -- dramatic scars that make the harsh nature of her illness difficult to ignore. So difficult to ignore, in fact, that a picture of her chest went viral on social media. With so many people affected by her story, Leaphart was inspired to plan a topless walk from Biloxi, Mississippi, to Washington, D.C., culminating on her 50th birthday in the spring of 2016 -- and when filmmaker Sasha Solodukhina met Leaphart, she was likewise inspired to document her amazing process.

The resulting project, Scar Story, aims to "challenge the breast cancer conversation to move beyond 'pink' -- raising issues of body positivity, race, and gender, and 'all of us have scars,'" the filmmakers told Mic. And as Leaphart says in the trailer, she doesn't want to give her audience "a pretty story wrapped up in a pretty pink bow about breast cancer, because that's not what it is. This is it. Across my chest."

"All of us have scars," she adds. "If they're not physical scars, they're emotional scars. We're afraid to expose those scars because we're afraid of what people might say or how they'll judge us. I want to put an end to that."

Truth. And watching Leaphart walk, hearing her voice, you'll feel it's impossible not to be moved by her words. Check it out:

Scar Story

This spring, Paulette will walk 1000 miles topless to change the face of breast cancer. SHARE this video and follow her story @thescarstory #scarstory #1000miles #breastcancer #breastcancerawareness #BCAM

Posted by Scar Story on Monday, October 26, 2015

What an inspiration. Leaphart is 100 percent right -- why are we so programmed to be ashamed of our scars? As Leaphart says, "Scars let us know that hey, yes, I had cancer -- and I kicked its ass."

Scars are powerful! Scars are proof of survival. And she's also right that breasts do not "define" a woman -- though society would have us believe otherwise. It's definitely time for a more honest portrayal of breast cancer; in fact, we're long overdue.

More from The Stir: I Survived Breast Cancer Because I Disagreed With My Doctor

Sure, drinking a latte with a pink lid on it or going braless for a day won't hurt, but are these allegedly fund- and awareness-raising measures really doing anything to add to the breast cancer conversation we should be having? Probably not -- but sharing stories like this one and celebrating women like Leaphart will. Let's start a dialogue where we actually listen to real accounts, concerns, and needs of cancer patients and survivors, instead of trying sanitize and market their experiences for mass consumption. Let's start embracing our scars, and accepting those of others. It just might make a difference.


Image via Scar Story / Facebook

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