The women (and men) I have photographed over the last four years for the exhibition/calendar at a local hospital’s Breast Center continue to show their support for me by sending constant good wishes and words of encouragement. I have been asked to be a participant next year on BOTH sides of the camera; I will do a self-portrait for “Faces of Breast Cancer, 2009.” Who could have predicted that? Anyway, here are more portraits and words from past exhibitions:
I am a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, girlfriend, medical technologist and eternal optimist. I am a breast cancer survivor. The initial shock of diagnosis was bone chilling, but there were so many options available for treatment and support that my fears were replaced with knowledge and, more importantly, a chance to fight back. One of the most difficult things during my treatment was not being able to be with my grandchildren at times when my immunity was low. But I had the bonus of anticipating the birth of a new grandson due the week of my last chemo treatment! Not only was he a joyful addition to our family, but his arrival signified a healthy new life for me.
After many years of being deliberate about getting my mammograms, December 1999 changed everything. I was shocked to learn I had cancer because we have no family history. I learned that this disease spares no one. Early detection is so important.
Our lives are too short. We must live each day to its fullest and treasure our lives, family and friends. My experience with breast cancer was stressful but my doctors, nurses and caregivers gave me confidence. I have learned to enjoy the beauty of my family and friends and to never lose faith.
I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and business manager. Even though I never thought it would happen to me, I am a breast cancer survivor. Despite my initial fear, I have learned how resilient survivors can be. I have learned that relationships with people are the most important part of my life. I’m blessed with wonderful family, friends, co-workers and physicians. My advice for other women is not to wait or hesitate. Early diagnosis gives you more options.
I thought breast cancer only happened to older people, but when a volunteer handed me instructions on how to do a breast self-exam, I took one anyway. I went ahead and did the check and found a little lump. I only went to the doctor after much urging from my mother. One appointment led to another until a biopsy confirmed that I had cancer. I used to be an introvert but I’ve found myself reaching out and getting more involved with more and more people since I’ve had breast cancer. Now since I’m here, I want to make a difference.
Being diagnosed the first time at age thirty-two was a frightening experience. The second time was a challenge that also brought positive changes into my life. I embrace my family and friends and try to build loving, lasting memories. Exercise is a routine part of my life, and I feel it is an important tool for surviving this disease. A breast cancer diagnosis is not the end. It could be the beginning of a new life experience.