Australian Mom with Breast Cancer Beth Whaanga Receives Flak for Posting Photos of Scar-Filled Body on Facebook

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By Reissa Su | February 13, 2014 6:48 PM EST

A breast cancer survivor in Australia went to great lengths to spread cancer awareness by posting photos of her body after surgery in Facebook. Beth Whaanga, a 32-year-old mother of four, lost 100 Facebook friends because of her "nude" photos.


Pink balloons are displayed in front of an artificial waterfall during the "Pink Ribbon" breast cancer awareness campaign at Cheonggye Stream in central Seoul October 5, 2011. (Reuters)

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According to Ms Whaanga, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, she had no regrets. Her doctors discovered she had the BRCA2 gene which indicates she was predisposed to breast cancer. World-famous actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy after doctors told her she had the same gene.

Ms Whaanga also had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction in Nov 2013. The procedures left her body with scars but instead of being ashamed, she requested her photographer-friend Nadia Masot to help her with a project she called "Under the Red Dress." Ms Whaanga said she wanted to show how the surgery has changed her body but helped her fight cancer.

Last weekend, Ms Whaanga wrote on Facebook that her photos contained topless material, but they were not meant to be sexual in any way. She explained she wanted to raise awareness for breast cancer and encouraged Facebook friends who find her images offensive to hide them from their feeds.

Just hours after posting her images, she lost about 100 friends and her photos were reported to Facebook. Her sister, Emma Rayner, reacted and called those who "unfriended" her as "gutless people." Ms Rayner said her sister's photos were not pornographic at all, but represented the truth about cancer. She believes her sister only wanted to show other women who may have breast cancer what it takes to survive.

Ms Whaanga preferred to be called a "breast cancer preventer" rather than a survivor. She told media she felt lucky enough to have found signs of breast cancer before her condition grew worse. She stressed the importance of self-checks to detect early signs of breast cancer.

Facebook has assured the Australian mum her images will not be removed from the site.

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Pink balloons are displayed in front of an artificial waterfall during the "Pink Ribbon" breast cancer awareness campaign at Cheonggye Stream in central Seoul October 5, 2011. (Reuters)
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