Darker Side of Pink – Rochester Cathedral

16th May 2023

Rochester Cathedral is hosting the award-winning installation campaign The Darker Side of Pink, highlighting the 31 women a day who die from breast cancer.

Darker Side of Pink at Rochester Cathedral highlights breast cancer deaths.

It was the vision of local woman Connie Johncock, a founding trustee of METUPUK, the UK’s only patient advocacy group dedicated to Metastatic (Secondary) Breast Cancer (MBC), to see the Darker Side of Pink displayed in Rochester Cathedral.

Sadly she did not live long enough to see her vision become reality. She died in March, aged 33, after living with metastatic breast cancer for 10 years.

The Darker Side of Pink was launched in Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2021 by METUPUK to raise awareness of living with the disease, which kills 31 women in the UK every day – making it the leading cause of death of women aged 35 – 64 in England according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Darker Side of Pink Breast Cancer awareness at Rochester Cathedral

Each of the ‘Invisible Women’ in the installation displays a QR code, which can be scanned to reveal videos telling their stories.

All the women in the silhouettes were filmed during September 2021 and since that time seven of them have died.

Canon Chancellor at Rochester, the Revd Canon Dr Gordon Giles said:

“It is a poignant honour for us at Rochester Cathedral to welcome the installation of the Darker Shade of Pink silhouettes.

“Almost everyone has known someone who has suffered from breast cancer; died of it or been a survivor of this prevalent and pernicious condition. So it is very important that we align ourselves with all those who are campaigning for better treatment and care for those who suffer from breast cancer and we are delighted to be able to do that.

“Here we remember with affection, Connie, with whom the installation was first mooted last year. We hope that having the silhouettes here will offer hope and inspiration to all those connected with breast cancer charities, and we join our thanks to that of so many people worldwide who are grateful for the work of cancer medicine and surgery and research. And we offer our prayers for all those who have suffered, who have died, and who have lost loved ones.”

The founder of METUPUK, Jo Taylor has been campaigning since 2016 to promote the issues affecting those diagnosed:

She said:

“Breast Cancer awareness is hugely important and valuable to many women, but the uncomfortable truth is that metastatic breast cancer is incurable and kills almost 1,000 of our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends every month.

“It can’t be sugar-coated and is severely under-represented in the global conversation around breast cancer. We’re passionate about changing the narrative to ensure that every woman facing metastatic breast cancer is supported and valued.”

Local METUPUK member and one of the 31 ladies featured, Madeleine Maynall, said:

“Rochester Cathedral is a beautiful venue to showcase the serious subject of metastatic breast cancer which kills 31 women every day.

“I want to pay a particular tribute to Connie Johncock who was a proud Medway woman and a founding trustee of METUPUK. It was her vision for the Darker Side of Pink to be displayed in Rochester Cathedral. She died in March aged 33, after living with metastatic breast cancer for 10 years. To date seven of the women in the exhibition have died from metastatic breast cancer, the largest cause of death in women aged 35-65”

MBC occurs when cancer has travelled from the primary breast site through the blood or lymphatic system to a distant area of the body. When this happens, it becomes an incurable disease. Amongst those diagnosed with early-stage Breast Cancer, approximately 30% will go on to develop MBC.

The exhibition is in the Nave until the end of May.