door Rob Jongbloed, Jos Houweling
Last year Ambar met Romina who just moved to Amsterdam from Stockholm. The Just Breast project was a success back in Sweden and had to be continued in Amsterdam as Romina saw the opportunity for women to talk about their identity, body awareness through art therapy and creating awareness around breast cancer as the figures are now 1:7 in the Netherlands
She felt an immediate connection with Romina and a need to challenge women to open up by being vulnerable in order for them to grow as individuals. Together they organise workshops debating topics like body image and mental health in a creative way while creating breasts prints.
Earlier this year Ambar discovered a lump in her left breast by doing one of the self exams for the workshops, which has lead to being diagnosed with breast cancer. The treatment took place when the Covid-19 intelligent lockdown started without her knowing how this experience would be. At a certain point her body
was handed out to a hospital and the only way for her to move forward was to mentally prepare the unaccompanied visits to the hospital and the surgery, as visitation was not allowed. On top of this not being able to receive comfort, as we could not hug friends and family, was a challenge and odd too.
Like many newly diagnosed cancer patients she had never thought that she could be affected by the Covid-19 restrictions. The load on the Dutch healthcare system had consequences for cancer patients as well, because of the hold on the treatments and the growing waiting list for critical surgeries. Apart from this they had to deal with their journey without their loved ones next to them in the hospital when they need them the most.
Therefore behaviours like: “Covid-19 doesn’t affect me, only the elderly who get sick from the flu anyway.” and not respecting the “intelligent” lockdown rules, came across insensitive as she felt forgotten. The solidarity was missing. Cancer patients were not able to benefit from their desired healthcare as long as the majority of the Netherlands won’t respect the lockdown rules. As a consequence the lockdown period would then be prolonged and more patients will have additional mental challenges during their treatment and recovery.
The only way for cancer patients to face this is to be mindful, find other healing and coping mechanisms. Challenging, but not impossible. That’s why Ambar and Romina like to dive deeper into this issue and help shine a light on others who are diagnosed with breast cancer, but don’t have a social network to fall on in the times before and after Covid-19. The global pandemic has lead them to new approaches and this will add more value to their work.
door Just Breast