I’ve written about photographer and activist Mfon Essien several times since I first interviewed her back in the fall of 2000. I hung out with her for most of that lovely afternoon in her living room. She was battling breast cancer, but that day there were very few signs of struggle or even weakness. We laughed, sipped tea and talked about what it meant to be sexy. For two young Black women this chat was revelatory indeed, but Mfon had been diagnosed in 1998 with terminal breast cancer and at this point had undergone a major mastectomy. She also had, however, taken the most amazing, unbelievable photographs of herself in the nude. She was sensual, gully and so damn grande!
I (photographed myself) specifically to heal immediately and to get over the mourning. I was like ‘you don’t have a breast and you’re not having plastic surgery anytime soon. So get it together and feel sexy today. Take these pictures now! ~Mfon Essien
On February 14, 2001, Mfon’s physical body took final rest from the war she was fighting against cancer. I remember her everyday and I try to honor her through my words, my ideas and my stories. Read my tribute for Mfon from last year for more info cause I really can’t top that post.
Lastly get a mammogram and if you have a history of breast cancer in your fam please get tested even if you aren’t 40. Mfon wasn’t even 35 when she died. Let her life be testimony and lesson for us all.