“Breast cancer changes you, and the change can be beautiful.” -Jane Cook, breast cancer survivor.
Receiving the sudden news that you have breast cancer and will be needing a mastectomy, is not what you think life will be giving you at 31 years old. But for my friend Brianna, this is exactly what life handed her. Brianna received the devastating news in December of 2017, and on January 17, 2018, she awoke out of surgery with a piece missing; physically, mentally, and emotionally. It would be a long road for her; how does one recover from something like that? How does one grieve? By the grace of God, Brianna has a wonderful support system through her family, her boyfriend, and her friends. With age and health on her side, she began to recovery beautifully. However, that didn’t compensate for the daily struggle she went through when simply looking in the mirror. She told me she felt hideous, and that she was grieving for the reflection that used to be in the mirror.
In March, Brianna reached out to me about doing a photo session. She wanted to document this part of her journey as a way to remember, to heal, and to find the beauty in the chaos. I was humbled that she wanted me to be a part of this, and we immediately began brainstorming. After I got an idea of what she wanted, we talked makeup, clothing, location, and set the date for her session. I have to admit, aside from shooting weddings, this was perhaps one of my most nerve-wrecking sessions to date. I wanted to do Brianna justice for the hell she had been through. I wanted her to look at these images and feel what the rest of us feel when we look at her: POWERFUL. BEAUTIFUL. BRAVE. KIND. HUMBLE. BAD ASS.
Brianna is officially cancer free as of right now, and is healing from her third surgery this year; a lift and reduction on her left breast, with an expander placed on her right side. In the fall, she will go through a fourth surgery to complete the revision. Here is the link to her CaringBridge site if you would like to follow her on her journey.