Film: 5580

Social History | 1970 | Sound | Colour


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A television presenter of the Fifth Estate programme discusses four women that have suffered from breast cancer 1970's and considers female and male ideas of beauty

A woman looks after flowers growing on a balcony. Close up of her face. A close up of another woman called Mariel and of a third woman called Barbara. Barbara sits with her husband and son outside their house. The fourth woman, Teresa is singing an aria from Carmen in an expensive looking living room, a woman plays the piano while a girl stands next to Teresa. A hospital corridor and a patients waiting room (at the Toronto Mount Sinai Hospital). Close up of Mariel sitting in the hospital waiting room, she is looking very apprehensive (she has found a lump on her breast). Mariel undergoes a thermogram. Close up of the thermogram which clearly shows a dark spot on the right breast. Another thermogram. Another close up Mariel waiting in the hospital. Mariel undergoes a mammogram. Close up of the mammogram procedure. Close up of the x-ray mammogram which reveals a suspicious dark form. Another close up of Mariel still looking very apprehensive while she waits in the hospital, at this same time, there are flashes of breast surgery images. Mariel breasts are examined by a surgeon, he confirms that she has a lump. Close up of a profile of Mariel face while she takes in the news, the doctor tells her that the lump is suspicious and recommends a biopsy.

Close up of a heart monitor. A surgical theatre, Mariel is undergoing the biopsy. Close up of the surgeon's hands performing the biopsy on the breast. Close up of the lump being extracted, it is taken by another person for pathology examination. Close up of the lump tissue being prepared for analysis. Several people look under the microscope at frozen sections of the lump. The pathologist communicates the result to the surgeon through the intercom in the operating theatre, the breast sample reveals a carcinoma, the surgeon proceeds to do a mastectomy. The television presenter is talking to the camera in a living room with white walls and white sofas, she emphasises that breast cancer does not happen to old aunties, in Canada, it is a number one killer of woman in their prime, half of the woman alive at the time of this programme will die within 10 years, there is a close up of the television. Presenters face as she delivers such shocking figures. Barbara rocks a child in her arms (she was 26 years old and eight months into her pregnancy when cancer was found in her breast, she had a mastectomy shortly after the birth. Close up of Barbara rocking her baby. Barbara talks about her experiences and feelings about breast cancer. Barbara's husband rides a bicycle with his daughter at the back down a Canadian road. He talks to the camera. Old photographs of him and Barbara. Barbara and her husband talk about how they met and about their relationship. Close up of some of the wedding photos. Barbara talks about her mother's breast cancer, her mother's scar image stop her from looking at her own scar. Barbara describes that initially she feared that her operation would change her husband's feelings for her.
The television. Presenter talks to a couple in a living room. The husband describes how his fears escalated while he waited for hours outside the operating theatre for the biopsy results. The couple walking outside in the snow. Photographs of their wedding. The wife describes how they had met etc.. Their daughter playing violin for them, them clap when she finishes. The wife looks in a mirror to put on earrings and admires her long hair. Close up of her face while she talks about her past appearance, she also describes how she felt about her mastectomy. A mastectomy. Mariel is visited by her husband in hospital. Close up of Mariel's face, she is afraid her husband will reject her. Mariel standing in front of a mirror, gaining courage to look at her scar, she slowly examines it and looks devastated and afraid of loosing her husband. Back to the couple, the wife says that she could not look at her scar while it was healing, her husband was the one who looked. Barbara talked to her mother about her fears of feeling rejected by her husband, she says she felt ugly and had her husband change the bandage for her in order to watch his reaction. Barbara's husband states that the scar was not as repulsive as he was expecting. Another husband says that the first time he saw the scar it was a shock due to the nature of the wound, not the location. The television. Presenter asks Theresa whether she ever felt sexually unattractive and she answers no, close up of Theresa holding hands with her husband. A breast prostheses. A woman helps Mariel fit her breast prostheses. Close up of Mariel face looking much happier. Theresa and her husband talk about adjusting and getting back to normal.

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