“The pictures were very shocking because nobody had ever seen me that way. Nobody had seen me bald, without makeup,” said Ekvall, now recovered and sporting a pixie cut hair do. “So I knew they would be shocking.” Her honest depiction was also a shock for a country at times obsessed with beauty and preserving one’s image at all cost.
Ekvall was diagnosed with advanced cancer on February of 2010, and completed a harrowing eight month treatment of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a mastectomy last October.
“Getting a mastectomy is not what I’d planned for my life, it’s not what I wanted to happen. But I’m lucky enough to have had reconstruction,” Ekvall said.
Her brutally honest descriptions of dealing with the disease, the mastectomy and the reconstructive surgery, made the book a bestseller in little over two months; Ekvall has become an outspoken advocate for a cancer awareness group, SenosAyuda, urging and encouraging women to get breast examinations.
Ekvall, who holds a degree in journalism, peppered the text with dark humor, based on emails to friends and family and memories prompted by the photographs from a prominent Venezuelan photographer, Roberto Mata, who convinced her to chronicle the treatment and life at home with her newborn daughter and husband. “In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I looked good or not. Then I realized that wasn’t the point. I wasn’t supposed to look good, I had cancer.”
“When I got sick and knew my breasts were sick it’s like I didn’t want them any more. I wasn’t fond of them. I was angry at them. So getting rid of them, even though it was horrible because I had all these scars, meant I felt better.”