Breast Cancer Warrior Stories: Kelly
Boudoir photography is about showing women their sensuality. Showing them a side of themselves they don’t see regularly. That powerful, beautiful femininity innate within them. As October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – approached, it crossed my mind that breast cancer survivors (I prefer the word ‘warriors’ myself) may be most in need of such a reminder.
I can only imagine that the treatments, the chemotherapy, the radiation, the surgeries…they take more from you than just the physical flesh. They must take you and reshape you into someone you have to get to know again. And, in that, the sensuality and sexuality of your womanhood must get lost in it.
So I sought out Breast Cancer Warriors and asked them to let me work with them in a boudoir session so I could show them that their sensuality and their sexuality still exists. These blogs are their stories.
This is Kelly’s Story.
“My story with breast cancer started rather innocently with my first ever mammogram. What was supposed to be a routine in-and-out all-is-well check ended with the detection of a sizable and rather ominous looking lesion in my breast. Go big or go home right?!?
“Fast forward to a few weeks later, and that suspicious lesion was proven to be malignant. I had breast cancer.
“I was 46 when I was diagnosed. I was recently separated, adapting to being a single mom to 4 kids, working, volunteering, and rediscovering myself after putting myself last on my list for way too many years.
“My surgical treatment consisted of a mastectomy on the affected breast and a plan for reconstructive surgery down the road. My goal was to get back to normal as quickly as I could after surgery and find out what I was dealing with, as far as staging of my cancer goes. Was it contained to the breast? Was it in my lymph nodes? Had it spread elsewhere in my body already?
“Those answers take time to find out. It was several months and many sleepless nights into my cancer journey until I was given the news that my tumor was contained to my breast, and that spread elsewhere in my body was not a huge concern.
“It was a huge silver lining, as it meant I did not have to undergo radiation therapy or more intensive treatments. I also was lucky enough to not have to go through chemotherapy. The day before I was slated to start chemo the final test result came back in my favor. Chemotherapy was cancelled and although I lost my breast I got to keep my hair.
“You win some, you lose some!!!
“Not having to undergo radiation therapy and chemotherapy was a big win for me. It meant I was able to recover quicker and would be able to take care of myself and my kids that much faster. It was a huge relief to know that at least my kids didn’t have to see their mom go through that.
“My breast cancer is hormone positive, which means that the estrogen produced by my body essentially fed the breast cancer. To prevent recurrence and also to prevent any stray cancer cells left in my body from setting up shop elsewhere, I now take a medication that hopefully starves any cancer cells of the estrogen in my body. It has side effects, that like to pop up every now and then and remind me that I am not invincible.
“After several reconstructive surgeries and some time since the initial diagnosis, I am working towards reclaiming my life back.
“A lot of the scars I carry with me as a breast cancer survivor aren’t just physical. The mental and emotional scars are there. People just can’t see them. Recovering from cancer is an ongoing challenge and journey, one that has really forced me to look at who I am, what I want out of life, and what matters most to me.
“My body has changed, and sometimes the person I see when I look in the mirror surprises me. For a while, I was mad. I felt like my body had betrayed me and I resented it. Learning to forgive it has been part of my healing process.
“The mental and emotional impacts of a cancer diagnosis stick with you. The what ifs, the fear, the feeling of things happening in your life that you have no control over. Those sleepless nights come back from time to time, but I have learned to remind myself that they pass. Some days I cry a lot harder than I ever did, but I also laugh a lot harder too!!
“The financial impact of a cancer diagnosis isn’t one that people talk about much. But it is there. Lost income due to being off of work, rehab from surgeries, return to work programs, or working limited hours due to post treatment side effects all affect your available income. The extra burden of worrying about money while going through treatment, especially when you have a family to care for, is another burden to deal with when you are already juggling enough.”
When I asked Kelly about why she wanted to participate in a boudoir session, she had a few reasons.
“I decided to do the shoot with Roses and Scars for a lot of reasons.
“I wanted to celebrate who I am now, scars and all. Needless to say, I was hooked by the name of the studio! The shoot helped me let go of some of the past, embrace who I am now, and learn to love myself a little bit more. Plus it was fun!!! So much fun, like catching up with an old friend on a Sunday afternoon!!
“I also wanted to do the shoot because I have learned there is so much power in our personal stories. Through my breast cancer experience, I have been so blessed to hear other women’s stories. By sharing, we become more vulnerable. But we also become more open and legitimate. And legitimacy is something I want to have in my life.
“And, I also wanted to do the shoot because I wanted to support the goal Roses and Scars. By donating her time, talent, and proceeds to the Pink Wig foundation, Pam is making a feasible, tangible difference to breast cancer survivors. By giving of ourselves, we make a difference. We affect a change. How could you not stand behind that?”
Makeup for this session was applied by Hazel Evoy. Hairstyling was done by Monica’s Barbershop & Salon.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Roses & Scars Photography will be raising money for the Pink Wig Foundation this year (2020).
When you book and pay for a session in October – session date does not have to be in October – 20% of your fee will be donated.
There will also be a boudoir mini-session marathon October 24/25, 2020. You can learn more about it here.
You could also send a message to make your booking.