Martine Rolls: Selfies put on brave face for cancer fight

By Martine Rolls

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British actress Lauren Crace was one of the many people who posted a #nomakeupselfie on social media to help raise awareness for breast cancer.
British actress Lauren Crace was one of the many people who posted a #nomakeupselfie on social media to help raise awareness for breast cancer.

They say that 2013 was the year of the selfie, but March 2014 is definitely the month of no make-up selfies.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, a selfie is a portrait photo taken with a handheld device like a digital camera or a phone and posted on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A new breast cancer awareness campaign launched last Tuesday on social media asks women to post photos of themselves online without make-up, with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie. Men can do it too, but they are turning things around by wearing make-up in their selfies.

New Zealand has joined the Facebook campaign, which raised almost $2 million in just over a day in Britain. I see #nomakeupselfie everywhere at the moment and it makes me happy that so many people are doing this. I posted mine on Saturday.

Then a friend shared a photo that was posted by Australian hip hop artist 360's Facebook page and it really shocked me.

It was a selfie of a girl with tape on her face. On the tape was written: "Be aware. They know the cure. Cancer is a 95.5 billion dollar industry. You don't really believe they want to stop that cash flow. Do you? Wake up."

Someone said: "This is terribly offensive to those affected by cancer. It may a profitable business but the human body is still a mystery."

Another commenter said: "There is a cure, it is called chemotherapy. Which doctors have been using to cure patients for years. Yes, it doesn't work 100 per cent on everyone but I'm sure that's what medical science is for, to find a better cure."

It makes you wonder: are governments and pharmaceutical companies indeed too greedy to save lives? If I would ever be in that terrible situation myself, which is painful even to think about, would I follow the doctors' advice blindly? Would I undergo radiation and chemotherapy, or would I search for answers in nature?

Nature can't be patented, so there's no profit to be made.

The big C is something that affects pretty much anyone. We all know someone who has died from cancer, or someone who has survived. I have a few friends who beat the odds and survived. One of them decided to refuse evasive surgery and chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. She looked for cures in natural medicine and holistic therapies instead.

We messaged each other about it on Facebook last night and she says she believes that most people have such a big fear of dying in agony from cancer, that they choose treatments that are not only toxic to the tumour, but also to the rest of the body.

"Fear is the most ill adviser ever when it comes to cancer," she said.

Talking to her reminded me of the meeting I had with a local man a few weeks ago who claims he cured his prostate cancer, which doctors said was terminal, by embracing his personal traumas, pains and fears. His name is Carl Peterson and he has recently published a book called Church of the Perfect God in which he describes his spiritual and healing journey. I found it a fascinating read.

Then last night, my friend said: "Nobody seems to understand that the cancer grew inside of you in the first place because of certain imbalances you have created for yourself, past bad nutrition, bad habits, bad experiences, unhappiness, anger, guilt. It takes its toll within all your cells because the stress hormone reduces the energy the cell needs to do its job. I believe it is wise to investigate where your life went wrong and simply change it.

"Be courageous, love yourself to the fullest, live a happy life and please do not despair. You only have one life, so make it a happy one. It is not that you get another shot at it, because we all die eventually."

Martine Rolls is a Tauranga writer and digital strategist

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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