Breast cancer is a nasty disease. It takes women’s breasts, dignity, sexuality and often their lives. Jodie Jaecks is a survivor of breast cancer. 15 months ago she found a lump during a routine self exam, and afterwards faced a barrage of treatments and surgeries – one of which resulted in her having two thick scars where her breasts used to be. Jaecks chose to have a double mastectomy to treat her cancer, and decided not to opt for reconstructive surgery.
After treatments, Jaecks wanted to take her life back and joined a swimming pool to get back in to shape. Due to nerve damage, however, Jodie wasn’t able to find a bathing suit top that didn’t leave her in pain. She finally approached the pool management to ask if they would object to her simply swimming topless.
At first pool management said yes. But when they reached a city official, she was told that she had to wear “gender appropriate clothing”. Jaecks found this ridiculous. “If I called myself a man and walked into that pool they would have no problem with my body, but if I am a woman who’s had breast cancer with the exact same body and I go in there then it was offensive or inappropriate. I just thought that was ludicrous,” she told the Seattle Pi.
Once her case started getting publicity, however, the City relented. They told Jaecks she would be able to swim in the pool topless, and that other requests would be reviewed on a “case by case basis”. Jaecks never did go to the pool, though. “Everybody knows somebody that has had cancer. It’s just so prevalent in our society and we should be so far beyond when people feel shameful,” she said. “I think it does throw it back on the individual for them to feel self-conscious or shameful to ask them special permission.” A breast surgery specialist in Sweden agreed, telling the Daily Mail “This clearly reflects how politicized women’s bodies and breasts are in our culture.”
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