…but women around the world are aware every day of their lives. I have been lucky so far but it is something that is always in the back of my mind. As a woman, mother of a woman and grandmother of 3 girls, breasts and estrogen abound in our family. The thought of hearing those bone chilling words “I’m sorry, you have breast cancer” sends me into a panic. I remember when my daughter was 16 or 17, she told me that she found a lump in her breast. Holding back tears, I tried to assure her that it was probably nothing and we made an appointment with my ob-gyn, who examined her and sent us upstairs to a surgeon for his opinion. He felt it was nothing to worry about and would have us come back in a week to have it aspirated. That was one of the longest weeks in my life. We were lucky, it was nothing but it made me realize just how fragile life really is and that cancer knows no boundries and can strike anyone at any time.
As a photographer, I met a woman who wanted me to shoot her in the nude. She loved the images that I was exhibiting and thought that I could capture her inner beauty. A few weeks later she told me she had breast cancer and would undergo a double mastectomy and wanted before and after pictures taken. Long story short, Carmen touched my life. What I tried to do for her was to show her that a scar is just a line drawn across the body. That her beauty lies within and that there is beauty beyond breast cancer. We had 3 photo sessions and are still trying to mesh our schedules for a little more photography, a glass of wine and some girl talk. Carmen wanted her story to be told and I wanted to help her tell it. She is not the first woman to have these feelings and unfortunately she won’t be the last. Through one of my blogs (Labor Of Love Pix) about her story, a woman from PA contacted me and asked if I would take pictures of her. Mary was finishing the last of her radiation treatments, had lost her hair and wanted to document her journey. I drove the nearly 3 hours to her home and photographed her and her family. Mary has a wonderful husband and 2 beautiful little girls. I was touched by the love, devotion and pride that her husband had for her. He was proud of her strength during her treatments, how she tried to keep her hope and spirits high. They let me into their lives and it was truly a beautiful moment. This year, I submitted one of the images I took for an international juried photo competition aptly entitled “A True Story”. I was thrilled when famed photo-journalist, Peter Turnley selected “Lean on me” to exhibit at a gallery in Vermont. Photograhing women with breast cancer has become one of my personal projects and if you would like to be a part of this undertaking, please contact me.
I decided to submit these 3 images.
Click on this link: JPG to see some of the wonderful images that have been submitted. Breast cancer reaches its icy fingers to far too many woman and yes men. It’s not just the month of October, it’s every month. Learn how to check your breasts, teach your daughters at an early age to be aware of their bodies as they grow and change through puberty. It can be difficult to sit and have a discussion with your daughter but it is so important.
As silly as the slogan may sound, kids know what it stands for. When I was growing up, people would speak in hushed tones about the “C” word, it was taboo. Cancer is a reality. More and more celebrities are speaking out about it and it’s not that they are unique in their journey but that they want the world to know that they are still the same beautiful, vibrant women that they were before they underwent surgery. And that they are so happy to be alive… Life is beautiful, precious and all too fleeting.