Battling Breast Cancer at 29 | Stephanie’s Story

Battling Breast Cancer at 29 | Stephanie’s Story

I met Stephanie at the beginning of this year.  A long time friend of mine called and asked if I could do a family portrait session for her neighbor.  A few days prior, her 29 year old neighbor was diagnosed with breast cancer and wanted to be photographed with her family before she went into treatment.  We called up the talented Veronica Passalacqua who agreed to treat Stephanie to beautiful make-up and we had their session set up within a week of that call.

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As soon as I met Stephanie, I knew that her story should be documented.  She was so full of youth, life & love.  To know that her body was battling a life threatening illness was shocking.  I asked if it would be okay for me & my camera to follow her through this battle and she graciously invited me in.  I can’t express the roller coaster of emotions that followed.

For the next 8 months, I chronicled many stages of her fight.  From shaving her head, to a double mastectomy to watching her struggle with giving her 4 yr old the littlest of attention while recovering from chemotherapy.  It was heartbreaking and inspiring.  I was always impressed with her ability to flash that gorgeous smile of hers.  To meet whatever challenge she was given, head on.  To hold close the things & people she was grateful for instead of pushing the good away.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is Stephanie’s story of love, acceptance, strength, fear, pain, resilience, hope & a Giant’s game (of course!)

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When Stephanie was about to undergo her double mastectomy, I realized what a warrior she had become.  One day, she’s enjoying young mom married life and the next, she’s fighting for her life.  She was battling with such a beautiful grace and I wanted to make sure she saw that.  Right before her surgery, I asked her to come into to the studio so I could create portraits of her.  I wanted to send her into that operating room feeling strong & protected.  I asked my amazing make-up artist how she felt about creating beautiful war paint and she was immediately on board (I love that girl!).  The result of that unforgettable day in the studio is below:

And, there’s no way I can end this post without talking about Catwalk for a Cure.  Some of the above images were featured at this wonderful fundraiser, this year.  I’ve been donating for a few years and for the last two, I’ve donated 100% of Modern Beauty session fees purchased at the event.  This year, I got to donate $660.00 to help women receive the care they need!!  The fantastic event raised over $255,000 this year!!  A huge part due to the moving story that Stephanie shared on stage.  Thank you to all the volunteers & donors that made this possible!!

Please share her story in the hopes of bringing awareness & hope!

Many many thanks to:

Leyla Hobbs for introducing me to this amazing woman.

Veronica Passalacqua for always being ready to provide gorgeous make-up (or war paint 🙂

Sarah Clark & the whole Catwalk for a Cure team for all the selfless giving of time & talent.

Garik of G Squared Studio for piecing together my scattered first attempts at video & audio clips into a moving & wonderful video.

Stephanie’s family and friends for being so warm & loving.

And, of course, Stephanie, Matt & Michael for inviting me to be a part of this journey – I will forever be honored by it.