Breast Cancer Warrior Stories: Vicki
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 Vicki’s Story.
“I was 44 years old when I received my Breast Cancer diagnosis. I was actually diagnosed twice. First I was told I had Stage 2 breast cancer, but the final diagnosis was Stage 3 – Invasive Carcinoma Ductal carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). The largest tumor that was removed measured 69 x 40 x 25mm. I had 2 that were positive for macrometastic carcinoma.
“I had a total mastectomy on the left side May 10th, 2017 and it was this surgery that gave my final diagnosis.
“I was to have 6 cycles of Chemotherapy. The first 3 cycles were F.E.C (fluorouracil injection, Epirubicin, and Cyclophosphamide injection). The last 3 cycles were Docetaxel injection. These would be administered through my PICC line which was place in June 2017.
“My first chemotherapy was July 4th, 2017. Each cycle was three weeks apart, I would just start to feel good and then it was time again. I had to take Ativan before each treatment because the panic in me was just too much. I remember how terrified I was that first treatment, and I started to cry and I couldn’t sit in the chair because it was too much.
“And across from me was a woman who had been doing chemo for so long and she had so many more treatments, and she just looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to be alright, you can do this’, and encouraged me to take the Ativan just to take the edge off.
“I haven’t felt the same since that first day. Something in the one of the injections made my brain feel strange. The chemotherapy also put me into menopause as the drugs were meant to stop the production of hormones that were feeding the cancer. I was PR+ ER+ positive [this means that Progesterone and Estrogen fuel the growth of cancer cells].
“I had to take a leave of absence from my job to deal with my illness. I had no sick benefits through work and only qualified for 15 weeks of EI. I returned to work before my chemotherapy treatments were done as I no longer had my EI or any kind of income to pay rent, bills or buy groceries except Child tax and child support. While working I had my last chemotherapy on the 17th of October, 2017. I took a week off to let the worst of it pass before I returned to work.
“I was also to receive 25 treatments of Radiation therapy. I worked all throughout those as well. November 14th, 2017 was my first one. They were everyday during the week with weekends off. My last radiation treatment was December 18th, 2017. I was lucky enough to have Mepitel film placed before my first radiation which slowed down the skin burns until my 3rd-to-last treatment. The burns were painful, and took weeks to finally heal. I was so grateful to be done.
“In June of 2018 my ovaries were removed – Bilateral Salpingo Oophorectomy is what they call it. I had also had a preventative hysterectomy in 2014 since I’d had cervical cancer from HPV in my late 20’s.
” I no longer felt like a whole person.
“Since being diagnosed I have taken Tamoxifen [Estrogen blockers] until the oophorectomy and then switched to Anastrozole [Hormone receptor blocker]. I also receive Zometa infusions every six months to help lower the risk of the cancer returning in my bones.
“July 24th, 2019 I underwent my second mastectomy on the right side as a preventative measure and had tissue expanders placed. From then on I was operated on three times because of infection, replacement of the expander and finally removal because my tissue doesn’t heal properly on the left due to the damage pf radiation therapy.
“My last surgery, the one to remove the expander was March 12th, 2020 – the day the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in Saskatoon. I have not had any more surgeries nor have I had my expander in the right filled because everything shut down. I am completely flat on the left side with no idea as to when I will be able to have my final surgery.
“I am in limbo.
“Being diagnosed was a nightmare. I was in the middle of a divorce, trying to raise two small children – 8 and 10 years old. It was so unfair that life was throwing me under the bus again and I just wanted it to not be true.”
I asked Vicki what made her want to participate in a boudoir photo shoot. She had this to say: “I wanted to do this boudoir session to show myself that no matter what I don’t want to live in the comfort zone of ‘I’m okay’. I want to push my boundaries and show the world that there’s more to this woman than breasts. With or without them, I am far more than the packaging I am in!
“I’m broken and it’s beautiful – my favorite lyrics by from Kelly Clarkson.
“I am over the moon with how the session turned out, and would do it again in a heart beat!!! I feel empowered and beautiful. I feel whole again even though I’ve lost so much of what made me a woman physically. I feel sexier than I ever have, and like I can take on the world with the spirit I have in me now. I’M BRAVE!”
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.