Ingrid Agüero by Anna Rigau

Ingrid Agüero captured by Anna Rigau, the photographer behind the project Mums on Film

"My name is Ingrid. I’m 36 years old and I’ve lived together with my partner, Joel, for the past 16. We have 3 wonderful children, ages 8, 5 and 2. Last February I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

About a year ago I felt a lump in my breast. I didn’t give it the proper attention, I was breastfeeding and believed it was a blocked milk duct. When I was told this was cancer, my first thought was: Shit, I felt it a year ago. I asked: Am I dying?. We still don’t know, we need to run more tests, they answered. Those were the hardest weeks I’ve ever faced. I felt guilty. I was dying and it was all my fault, because I had not been to the doctor as soon as I should have. My mind was restless. I was telling myself I don’t want to die. I would hug my little one, who was too young to understand, and I would tell him that I was sorry he would not remember me. Will I ever be able to review this moment without crying? We were not able to explain it to the older sisters. It’s so hard to contemplate the idea of a farewell. It seemed unfair, I still had so much to live. Neither the kids, Joel nor myself deserved it.  

When we got the results, the doctor shared what for us was the greatest news in the world: it could be worse, also better. No, you are not dying. That day, Joel and I had dinner alone in tears. We told each other so much, I began to think that the suffering of the past weeks was worth it. At that point, we felt strong enough to share with the girls what the past weeks had been about and why I had been to the doctor so often. We talked about cancer, the possible operations, its treatment, its effects and even the possibility of dying. It wasn’t easy. My oldest child didn’t understand I had to go bald. It’s odd that she’s the one who helps me to shave my head now. My second daughter hugged me and said: It’s ok, I will love you the same way

My beloved children, I am proud of you, because of how you make me feel. You don’t ask me to stop crying, you hug me tightly when that happens. You have never asked me to hide under a headscarf. You are worried if I have used sun cream. You cover my head against the coldness. You are not concerned if I will ever be the person I used to be. I already know that won’t be the case, neither outside, nor inside. I’ve already changed. I have learned. I’ve learned to receive, to love and to let people support me. There are many other things I am still learning. For instance, accepting all the changes my body is going through in such a short time: the ones that are visible and the ones which are not. It might sound silly, but it’s not simple. 

In this journey, I have met many beautiful people and connected to incredible human beings. I’ve lived hard moments that have helped me evaluate the rest, what is good or just not that bad. This is why I wouldn’t like to forget this chapter. I hope and wish that my experience inspires other women to face this illness the best possible way. Today to say that you are suffering or have suffered breast cancer often brings the following answer: Don’t you worry, nowadays this is nothing

The fact that unfortunately there are so many cases doesn’t mean it’s easy for the ones who are affected by it. The surgery and the treatment are not painless. It’s true that an early detection of cancer helps, so let’s stop the taboos and speak openly about self-exploration, especially around our children. Knowing your body helps to detect any anomalies sooner."