Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Strength & Beauty Behind the Scars

love… strength ….hope… fear …. horror ….anger ….  rage … belief … beauty … intestinal fortitude … survival … determination … self-belief

This little project of mine is something that has been with me for quite a while.  5 years ago I lost a dear friend, at only 38 to breast cancer….   Whilst we only went to school together for only 3 years (grade 4, 5 & 6) we remained dear friends for life…..

This cruel and terrifying disease affects so many women young and old, and their loved ones that standby so helpless but always there with a supportive, loving hug and to hold their hands through all the jabs, procedures and operations……

This portrait session is of a beautiful bride of mine who now I call a dear friend… Natalie…. is a cancer survivor.  Having undergone a radical mastectomy and axillary dissection in July 2011.

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With this month being BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

I wish to introduce you to Natalie who has been fighting the fight! and WON!

Natalie's story.....her personal victory over this terrifying disease

I was diagnosed with a 5 cm Tumour and Paget’s disease in my left breast. I underwent a radical mastectomy and axillary dissection in July 2011. After a couple of weeks recovery from surgery, I started 18 weeks of chemo (6 rounds, 3 of FCL cocktail and 3 of Taxotere).Each chemo session I spent 1 week out of 3 in hospital; the first 3 treatments because I couldn’t keep anything down, including water, and the last 3 because of the massively severe pain it caused, requiring hospitalization and authorized narcotics for pain (MS Contin). My hair fell out, I became bloated and put on weight, but I went everywhere with my bald head exposed and a smile on my face. About 5 weeks after Chemo finished, I began 25 treatments of radiation, which meant 5 weeks in Brisbane away from my 2 youngest children, who were 8 & 10 at the time.I did a lot of things to take some control back during my chemo.....when my hair started falling out, I decided to shave it all off. Yes I was going to lose it, but it was going to be when I CHOSE to. I could have hidden my head under hats, scarves and wigs, but I thought, "NO WAY! if I have to look at myself bald every single day, then so can the rest of the world".I now have the lovely side effects of Tamoxifen to deal with: more weight gain, and aches and pains in my joints….but hey, I’m still here. The tamoxifen caused me to also have blood clots, requiring injections to remove them, and taking asprin for the rest of my treatment.

Getting reconstruction was another "taking me back" step. Reconstruction of my breast occurred in August of 2014. I had a TRAM flap procedure, which used the skin, tissue, fat and veins in my stomach to completely reconstruct my left breast, as well as having a precautionary subcutaneous mastectomy and recon of my right breast, with removal of the nipple also. You could say that I had a tummy tuck and a boob job. February 2015 saw the reconstruction of my nipples, and then in July of the same year I had the tattooing procedure. I thanked my surgeon for making me feel like I was whole again.

To me, looking in the mirror everyday was a constant reminder of the fact that I had cancer.....that scar tormented me every day. There is a lot of grief that goes with breast cancer, so much of us, our identity, our femininity, is lost when our breast is removed. I had many obstacles to overcome, especially after losing my eldest son, 16 months after my cancer diagnosis. Yes the scars are there, but they are now the scars of victory; they are the signs of the battle I fought, they are the signposts in the search for my inner strength, they show me that I can overcome, and they show a beauty that shines from within, for it’s a beautiful heart and soul that can find the light in the darkness. So let your light shine always. - Natalie .

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I offered this session to Natalie so as to reclaim her femininity after being robbed of such an important part of it!  It has been a long journey…. And I’m hoping in some way this gives her the extra strength to help move forward with pride!

I am now offering this to someone dear to you! A fighter, a survivor…. Someone you love that needs to be reminded on how beautiful they are inside and out! Breast reconstruction or not! You may have just started your journey or at the end just like Natalie…..

The POWER OF YOUR BEAUTY must not be underestimated…..

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A few words from Natalie after her photo shoot…

'Hello lovely, Love the photos.....they are gorgeous.....I feel beautiful and sexy when I looked thru them. Steve likes them A LOT......as I knew he would.....but they captured what you wanted them to.......yes the “I had breast cancer” signs are there with the scars, but there is also hope, strength, intestinal fortitude, survival, love, beauty, determination, self-belief.....all the things that cancer couldn’t take away from me. I’ve had to re-build my body and my life. I could have left it how it was, a flat jagged scar on the left and a breast on the right, but recon was my way of fighting back, of saying “I am taking ME back again”. Thank you for letting me see ‘the me’ that you see. It’s really tough to see that most days, in fact, I haven’t seen it at all until now. Much love, Nat.

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in honour of all women ! and my dear friend Michelle Noelker …..1972 - 2010

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Do you know some one that is currently fighting the breast cancer fight, or through the worst of it and is in need of pampering.  AND most importantly needs to be reminded how beautiful she is?  Reconstruction or no reconstruction! Call Carissa just for a chat! ....

2 complimentary sessions per year..... this includes hair, make up, photographic session and all images! FREE!