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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Breast cancer, age 37, 2021

Cat Leedon

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2022 Finalist

At age 36 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As I searched to understand my diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options, I was bombarded with endless photos of mostly older women, smiling in pink. The brave warriors who had survived – thriving and happy. But as a young single mum of two, contemplating my life being cut short – I wasn't smiling, I was in pain. The toxic positivity of being shown only happy survivors simply added to my anguish. I'm not brave, thriving, happy. I'm scared, scarred, and numb. This self-portrait was taken two weeks after my second breast surgery.

Courtesy of the artist

Cat Leedon
Video: 1 minute 44 seconds

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2022

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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