Copyright: Deborah D. Lattimore

When Deborah Lattimore found out she had breast cancer in September last year, she decided to document her struggle with the illness and post the photos online. A stark but important message: having a mammogram can save your life.

The most common form of cancer among the female population, breast cancer affects one in eight women. In the US, mortalities from breast cancer have been decreasing since 1990 – largely as a result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.

Raising awareness of breast cancer is precisely the aim of Deborah Lattimore. She says she owes her life to regular screening, and urges other women to do likewise.

Our thanks to our Observer Alberto Celani for directing us towards Deborah’s website.

“Thanks to going for a mammogram, I’m still alive”

Deborah Lattimore, originally from Dallas, Texas, now lives in Reno, Nevada. A runner-up in BBC Photographer of the Year 2006, she has exhibited her work in cities across the United States, as well as in Paris.

My goal is to spread the word about having a mammogram. Personally I’ve always had a mammography since I turned 40, and when they caught the cells, when I was 54, the lump was only 0.8 cm across – which is really tiny; stage one. If I’d waited just a year it would have been much bigger; stage two or three. Both my biological mother and grandmother died of breast cancer, which spread to bone cancer; it was too late for them.

I have letters from people all over the world. One guy told me that he’d been asking his wife to get a mammography for four years and finally she did after reading my stuff. Personally I didn’t realise how traumatic the chemotherapy would be, but thanks to going for a mammogram, I’m still alive.

There’s a wonderful group called which is an online community of sufferers. I’m in a forum of women who all started chemo in 2009. There are people from all over the world joining the site and we support each other online.”

Deborah returning home after surgery and then three months later. Copyright: Deborah D. Lattimore