KICKSTARTED – Hi! We’re Emily MacKenzie and Sasha Solodukhina, director and producer of Scar Story, the documentary chronicling Paulette Leaphart’s 1,000 mile topless walk to Washington DC. Paulette begins her journey across the country in May of 2016 and we, along with a small and dedicated production team, are hitting the road with her. We couldn’t be more excited.
Paulette Leaphart was, in her words, “born uncelebrated.” At six years old she was left in the care of relatives who didn’t want her. She bounced from household to household, lacking nurturing or attention. To escape the abuse she faced, she found refuge in the local church, which became her solace during those troubling times. As a little girl, she sat in the pews and made a promise to God: When she grew up she would adopt a child for every one she had biologically, to give children the kind of love she never had.
By 2014, Paulette had fulfilled her promise and was a single mother of eight, living a comfortable life. One night, she woke up crying from a nightmare, convinced that she had cancer. Her oldest son tried to comfort her – they had recently lost several female family members in succession to breast cancer. He insisted, it was just bad dream.
Believing that it was a message from God, Paulette rushed to make a doctor’s appointment. Finding nothing in a routine exam, the doctor suggested they check back in six months. “I’ll be dead in six months,” she said. Reluctantly, the doctor performed further tests, and to his surprise, she was right – Paulette had an aggressive form of breast cancer metastasizing behind her breast and spreading to her lymph nodes. She needed a double mastectomy immediately with no option for reconstructive surgery. “What is a woman without breasts?” she asked herself. Paulette was left with a choice – life, or holding on to the very things that were trying to kill her.
After her double mastectomy, Paulette underwent months of vigorous and expensive chemotherapy. Although the treatments left the family on the brink of financial ruin, they saved her life. For her, surviving cancer was not enough. She felt that if other people could see her scars and hear her story, she could help them. Her teenage daughter posted a photo of Paulette’s scars on Facebook, and it went viral. Immediately, she was inundated with messages of support and gratitude from cancer survivors and their family members.
By exposing herself and speaking out bravely, she broke the shameful silence and empowered other women to get the same life saving procedure. By showing her scars, Paulette inspires hundreds who had suffered all kinds of trauma to share their own scar stories.
Now, she is embarking on a new mission – walking 1000 miles across the country bare-chested to share her story,to commemorate those who lost their lives, and to augment the popular pink imagery of the disease. By walking across the country baring her scars for all to see, Paulette is on a brave mission to remind us that we all have scars, and we should not be ashamed of them.
This Documentary will chronicle Paulette’s Journey.