Kristan, was one of the first brave ladies who did not want to take pictures with her wig on. I remember her saying she had never taken pictures just bald and wanted to try it out! Boy! Am I glad she did! Her pictures turned out amazing! It was such a pleasure meeting such a wonderful woman! Here’s her story :
Like so many other moms I have met, after the shock and terror of hearing you have cancer hits you like a train, there comes the two words that endlessly repeat themselves like a silent scream in your head … “my babies, my babies, my babies ….”. I had two young children, only five and two years old – I couldn’t have cancer! I was young, healthy, ate organic, physically active, and no risk factors … I couldn’t have cancer. I had two kids who needed their mommy … I couldn’t have cancer. With great intensity, I informed my oncologist that I could NOT die, you have to fix me; I have two kids to care for! He nodded kindly in response to my rabid, demanding outburst.
As someone goal oriented and driven, I tackled my cancer diagnosis as a problem to be solved. Just a obstacle to be overcome. The first year of treatment was brutal, but I saw myself as strong and determined; cancer was just another learning opportunity, a challenge to be met head on. I was a “survivor” and was educated and organized on all things cancer. I was told it was all about the right attitude – I was constantly checking myself for the right attitude, afraid that I would cause my own death if I didn’t have one. Always afraid of how my illness would impact my children.
After a year of hell, success. I am declared cancer free! Except, I wasn’t. A lesion was found in my brain. Then, later, more lesions in my pelvis, spine, lungs, and now my back. The silent scream in my head, “my babies, my babies, my babies”, the chant that never goes away, became a roar when I found out I was Stage IV. No longer curable. I was a fighter who didn’t win the “battle”. Was I no longer a survivor? People became uncomfortable, didn’t know what to say to me. Other people with cancer who were still curable were afraid of what I represented. I was even told not to talk about my status in a cancer support group. Cancer land has its own special kind of craziness and delusions.
I became a single parent soon after I found out that I had a terminal illness. It had nothing to do with my having cancer. I quickly learned that my strength and determination would not be enough. My future, my kids future, my hopes, security, goals were unraveled and broken. My medical insurance and savings disappeared. I couldn’t return to my previous profession as I was too ill and medical appointments consumed my days. Pink t-shirts with slogans of hope would not feed my kids or help them with school. I learned about how busy people are and about the real truth behind the cliche regarding finding out who your true friends are. And, conversely, was humbled by thinking back about how busy I had been and had I been a true friend to others. I learned about the value of time and that time will be lived well or lost and that is the one thing I could choose no matter what the circumstances.
My view of the world has changed as so much of what my family has or does is a direct result of the kindness of others instead of my own work or effort. The reliance on others scares me and unnerves me as I greatly valued my independence. Asking for help or even accepting an offer of help remains a tremendous struggle. But, without this uncomfortable vulnerability, we would have never had the incredible delight and blessings of meeting others who have appeared unexpectedly in our life. Where previously I thought strength held people close, I now feel true humility and openness is what truly connects us. Singleton Moms and their network of volunteers have been with me through the most difficult times in my life, sustaining the life of my family with genuine help and compassion, creating celebrations and cherished memories for my children.
It was the opportunity to have a tangible memory for my children that motivated me to drag out of bed for this photo shoot. The idea of facing a camera was intimidating at best and getting myself dressed and out the door required the help of my young daughter. To our delight, as we stepped into the room and were greeted with such enthusiasm and encouragement, it became more than just a photograph. I walked in sick and insecure with my daughter in tow, we left giggling and girly and grateful for the time we had with everyone there. These photos are about talent and friendship and kindness and fun. I wanted to be photographed bald because it speaks of my illness. With hair, one would not realize that I am sick, let alone how devastating this illness has been or that only 15% of us with my diagnosis get the chance to live this long.
So, thank you, thank you all for that day and the good living and the great memories and the smiles that endure forever! xoxo
make up by chik’ a la mode