I don’t want anyone ever thinking that I am using my moms cancer as a way to gain popularity.
I am not using my mother’s cancer for personal gain. I am not that kind of person. Not in the slightest.
I am doing this for two reasons awareness and healing.
I want bring life to the reality that is cancer. To be more then the pink ribbon, more then an awareness race, more then billboards with statistics… Not that any of those things are bad, infact I think they are good, but you never know how common breast cancer is until you or someone you know has it.
I want to bring a voice to cancer. The voice of raw pain and ultimately victory. A voice that is all too often is unheard.
My mom wants this as well. She would rather fight out loud instead of inwards despite how much pain she is in. Mom says that if these posts only help one person in the end, it will be worth it.
I find that there is healing when you’re vulnerable enough to creativity bare your bones.
When I was in school for photography I had to do a photo project that described my greatest fears. I realized then that my greatest fear was myself. I was afraid I would kill myself. I was always tempted and tried many different times. I was manically depressed with many issues.
The biggest challenge I faced was my eating disorder. I could days without eating but then I would eat up to seventeen sandwiches from Wendy’s. I would of course vomit uncontrollably afterwards. I also exercised way too much for someone who didn’t have any calories to burn. I had a lot of hurt and angst in my life that all climaxed when a very serious relationship ended.
Anyways, back to photography school and photographing my fears…
I ended up photographing myself completely naked. I did this because it was near impossible for me to accept me. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror so doing self-portraits without clothes or makeup was immensely difficult. For a long time I couldn’t even look at the camera. I photographed myself after I binged, when I wouldn’t eat, after I had cried for hours on end… OK, you get the point.
Most everyone else in the class photographed their fear of clowns or rodents. So when I had to do my presentation you can imagine how humbling and uncomfortable that was. I was basically exposing my greatest secret to the entire class. I can still hear the silence that lingered in the room after I displayed my images.
In the end, after years of photographs, I went from cold and alone to FREEDOM in the mind, body, and soul. I am posting some of my healing photographs below. The last photo is me breaking free of the chains that bound me.
Which is why I changed the photo on my home page because my blog morphed into stories of traveling adventures into a blog about the power of healing in tragedy.
Art saved me. Telling my story through photography saved me. Of course I still struggle every now and again, but I am only human.
When my mom was diagnosed, I asked her if I could photograph her and then told her what art did for me in my greatest battle. I know my issues are far different from cancer but healing can come all the same.
I want you all to know that my mom pre-approves all the photographs I post and I tell her repeatedly that this HER story and I am only comfortable posting what she allows.
For those of you that aren’t in my mom’s circle, which is most of my readers, I want you to read what she posted on her Facebook today. I want you all to hear her voice tonight. Not mine. (Even if my intro was horribly long.)
“As you all know, a lot has happened in the past couple days. So, I would like to share a little about it…
When I went to work, I have to say, I received more smiles than I anticipated. Not the, “Oh, it happened smile and politeness”, but beautiful smiles that encouraged me to be strong and brave. Friends who have been supportive telling me how I pull off a scarf and a hat, people with hugs and encouraging words. It is not by chance that I work at Missoula Aging Services, and that the people there are AMAZING!
I do know that hair is just hair and it will come back. A few days later I can now look at myself in the mirror without crying. I guess maybe this is a test of vanity. It just makes me stop to think of all the other emotions that may come up too. So, if I can’t look at myself without hair, how will I allow myself to look at me without breasts. Will I ever feel comfortable with sharing all of me with the man I love and who loves me so well? I know in time yes, but it is a scary step to not have an answer to.
Today is Easter Sunday, I am waking up to having 3 grandkids, two kids, my brother-in-law and my-father-in law surrounding my hubby and I. What a beautiful feeling. I am blessed to have such great people in my life who love me through this. I am looking forward to a road trip next weekend to visit my other loved ones who couldn’t make it here.
In case some of you don’t know why I am allowing my daughter to blog about my journey, please let me explain. First, I love her, and would do anything with her or for her. But the truth be told, I started this page as a way of updating people and asking for support and prayer.
Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I have met more people than I care to know have gone through this journey. ALONE. It breaks my heart. I think all of us have seen advertising promoting breast cancer awareness. But do any of us really know how common it truly is? Not until we get diagnosed. I love the prayer and support each of you are giving me- you have no idea what it means to me. However, I ask that you keep an open mind with some of the posts because I also want this to be educational and helpful to others. I am not going through this alone, I am not keeping quiet about this. I am hoping that others will be able to read and understand a little more about the emotions, fears, and processes. Hopefully, someone will be touched and helped through all of this.
People keep calling me brave. I hear, I never told anyone. I just did it. I am not brave. I handle my fear differently. For years, I have said that my fears are often what drives me. Well this is proof that it is true.
Because I have breast cancer, and the treatment plan that I am on, It is a visual notification for everyone. I feared people giving me “the look” when my hair started falling out, or when I have surgery, or when I start missing work. So I felt I had two choices. Let it happen to me and not share while leaving people the opportunity to ask others what is going on with me (got over that in Jr High) Or, I could control my fear and put it out for all to see so there were no questions. My fear drove me to be open.
I love that my daughter has decided to blog this journey. I pray her blog posts get many many reads and followers. See in some ways, she is blogging my journey but it is through the eyes of my adult child whom I am very close to. That is another perspective of how when one person is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is. I am sure that not everything will be shared, but I am sure that it is helping me heal, helping her heal and I pray it is helpful for others as they go through this with my family. As a matter of fact, I have received a few private messages from people about this. Some who are scared to death because they are reading this and they are either going through treatments of their own, or going through the testing process and praying to NOT be diagnosed. Awareness is not just for the billboards anymore.
I am seriously humbled by all of your love and support. Thank you.”
On that note…
HAPPY EASTER EVERYBODY