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Wendy Garro raises awareness and £10,500 for Breast Cancer Support with mastectomy photo

Pic by Allan Garro

Breast cancer survivor Wendy Garro has bared her mastectomy scar to raise awareness and funds for local charity Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar.

Ms Garro has raised over £10,500 for the charity and hopes her photo will reassure women that they do not need to have reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy.

“I know people are telling me I am a warrior, I am great and all those things, but it has not cost me anything to do it. I didn’t have any problem whatsoever showing my scars,” she said.

“I think that some women are scared of having reconstruction surgery because these surgeries have their risks as they have to take the fat from your tummy and it is a big operation.”

“Maybe there are women out there who feel pressured to do the reconstruction in the sense if I have one less boob or one less breast I am not going to be whole and a women and maybe they are scared of that surgery but having this pressure of having to have two breasts makes them feel they should.”

“I’m telling them, no, choosing not to have a reconstruction is a valid choice and it is ok not to do it. You just have to be comfortable in your own skin.”

Ms Garro was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2017 after an seven month journey trying to get medical professionals to believe her when she said she felt a lump, something they could not find previously when examining her.

She had planned on just letting it be until a friend posted on Facebook reminding people to check their breasts during October.

“I decided then and there I was not going to take no for an answer and that I was not imagining the lumps,” she said.

Her determination paid off and two lumps were found, a biopsy confirmed that it was a cancer and at the age of 49 Ms Garro was diagnosed with ‘ductal invasive carcinoma grade 3’ and had in fact four tumours.

What followed was her mastectomy and 15 sessions of chemotherapy and 15 of radiotherapy.

“I cannot fault the care I received once diagnosed,” she said praising Dr Salman in particular.

She said Dr Salman has been “exceptional and has gone above and beyond” for her.

“A doctor who really cares for his patients, it is incredible”, she said.

She wants to remind women that no one knows their body better than themselves.

“Listen to your body. Listen to yourself,” she said.

Mayor of Gibraltar, Christian Santos, spoke to Ms Garro about raising awareness for breast cancer and what he had planned was a typical portrait photo.

However, that turned into something so much more when she said she wanted to reveal her scar.

“Really I had thought about doing this when I was going through my chemo and I was bored I used to look at myself in the mirror and say I could do a photo like this,” she said.

“But, it is something you do not voice because you are scared what other people may say.”

Mr Santos believed that that action alone deserved to be promoted separately to his campaign as she could raise so much money and awareness.

“He said to me what you want to do is so powerful that nobody has ever done it in Gibraltar before and it is going to be a boom thing and we need to do this as you yourself and not in conjunction with any other thing,” she said.

He was right, Ms Garro has raised over £10,500 and increasing on a daily basis.

Ms Garro spoke to her husband, children and her parents about the photograph and all supported her greatly.

Her father predicted she would raise £10,000. Her husband not just supported her but was the photographer that captured her portrait.

The money will go towards buying a cold cap for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. A cold cap reduces the chances of hair loss dramatically and will be made available to all patients receiving chemotherapy not just those with breast cancer.

Heidi Alman Jeffries from Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar reiterates the fact that the money raised by and for the charity is used to enhance breast care services in Gibraltar.

“We have had patients say I would rather lose a breast than my hair,” she said.

She believes that this is because hair loss is noticeable when in public, a mastectomy is hidden.

“You hair does thin, but we have been told that depending on the chemo and depending on the thickness of the follicles and other things but hair does thin,” she said.

Ms Garro has been having her routine check-ups, CT scans and MRI since and all have been clear.

She is looking forward to her five-year post cancer assessment.

“I am proud of my scar. It means I am stronger than what tried to hurt me. Be comfortable in your own skin and love your body, scars and all,” she said.

Donations are accepted via bank transfer to the Breast Cancer Support Gibraltar bank account.
Name: BCSG Acc:10216701 Sort:40-51-78

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