Embracing life on its own terms. Acceptance allows
us to bend without breaking in the face of tests
I remember when I was first diagnosed and trying to figure out how I would make sense of all this. How would I cope with my new body? How do others cope with what is happening to them I wondered? What would all this teach me if I beat this and live a very long life? My work life has always revolved around doing something for others, whether that is serving a plate of pasta or helping a kid find his way in this not always easy world. I have shared some of myself through this blog, telling everyone exactly what I felt and thought. With breast cancer as with many other cancers the scars run deep and far beyond what some will ever know or understand. When going through an experience such as this you want to share your story, but I am not quite sure that you can ever articulate exactly the impact of what has happened, or what is happening.
I have looked around for inspiration to do this and saw that some incredibly brave women showed exactly what the journey has been like for them through photography. I was moved beyond words as I thought " that is me". Given the opportunity I knew its something I would get involved in . Through the art of photography a picture needs no words to be spoken for understanding. The reality of the photo as honest as it gets. I looked to a friend of mine who is a wonderful photographer and equally wonderful spirit. Malin Enstrom. She runs a business called Enstrom Photography. I found her pictures always captured a moment, artfully frozen in time with her camera. Her pictures encompassed joy and life to me.
I asked her what she thought of the idea of taking pics of me. She loved the idea and agreed to be on board immediately. I thought to myself after asking her " what am I doing?" Why do you want to do this Sondria?" . I had explained to Malin that I was hoping that if I put my pictures out there we could possibly then encourage other women to do the same. It would put a face to a terrible disease in a different way. It has been done by others but not locally and not with the courageous woman of Newfoundland.They could share their personal stories of how breast cancer has impacted their lives through photography. We could then hopefully share it with people through a gallery exhibit of some sort. I pondered that this could be our way of giving back and encouraging everyone to be proactive about their bodies and their health. It could also be a vechicle for people to understand why after dealing with breast cancer, people meet, go on retreats, paddle in boats, run and many other things to acknowledge the journey. People could have a better knowledge why we need to reassure each other that although cancer make take a part of us, it cannot take our spirit, the essence of who we are or the gifts we bring to this world. Now I had a partner and a plan, all I needed was the courage and a date.
Malin and I planned and met on a beautiful sunny morning. We talked a little about what we would do, where we should shoot the pictures and then simply just did it. As I got ready to take of my top, I looked at Malin and began to cry. She hugged me and I knew she got it. We spent the next hour or so getting comfortable with each other and finding the right light and positions. I was nervous but Malin's easy tone made it all happen. We laughed and talked while she took pictures. My dog Juno insisted on being part of it all and we happily included her in some of the shots. The whole experience is exactly as I had imagined. I want to thank Malin for doing something with me that was incredibly special and personal. My hope is people take away what ever they need to from these pictures. Some may wonder why the need, but again that is me. Sometimes you just do things that you need to do or want to do. Its certianly not for attention, I am as popular as the queen these days. Lots of friends and lots of loving support. Its an idea I wanted to act on inspired by art and bravery.
In Newfoundland the projected statistics for this year is 330 women will be diagnosed and 90 will die from breast cancer. In canada 19% of of women diagnosed will be under 50. I personally know women diagnosed in recent times and all under 50.
So now Malin and I are looking for other breast cancer survivors in the area who would like to be part of our special project. We want to represent the incredible women in Newfoundland. The hope is to collect portraits of a number of women. Malin will be taking the photo's and I can always be there for support.
Every scar tells a story and every story has a scar.
If you would like to be involved in this project, please contact
Sondria : firstname.lastname@example.org or (709)-765-1563
Malin at: email@example.com / www.enstrom.ca/ (709) 690-9428
Please do not crop or alter these pictures without the permission of the photographer, Malin Enstrom. And please, always leave her copyright © 2012 Malin Enstrom.