As a way of giving back, I have been very involved on a volunteer basis for over 4 years with a local charity, the StringsforaCURE® Foundation, which provides support and financial assistance directly to cancer patients, primarily those with breast cancer.
For the second time in two years, I had the honor of photographing breast cancer patients who have received some type of assistance from StringsforaCURE. And once again, I was so inspired by these patients who received a breast cancer diagnosis and then faced weeks, months and sometimes even years of treatments that have terrible side effects. Perhaps you know someone who has been touched by breast cancer and understand the pain, suffering and anguish, both physical and emotional that they face. Yet their courage, determination and inner strength enable them to move forward on a long arduous journey.
We asked patients if they were interested in being photographed for StringsforaCURE and those who agreed became the Faces of STRINGS 2015. Last year the photographs were taken in a little “studio” in my home. This year we decided to make them a bit more casual and make the final images black and white with selective color to emphasize the StringsforaCURE wristband that each of them was wearing.
As I talked with each of the patients, I found that each was so unique in terms of their specific treatments, length of time under treatment and how they dealt with their diagnosis and journey. One common thread though was they would not let the disease define them. Each was determined to get through this no matter what it takes. Most of them lost their hair during chemotherapy treatment and had to endure hours/days of nausea and sickness after the therapy. Sometimes surgery to remove one or both breasts occurred before chemotherapy treatment, while for others a lumpectomy was scheduled, usually followed by radiation. So, in addition to dealing with chemo and radiation side effects there is also post-surgical pain and the physical and emotional loss of part of your body. These are not simple and easy treatments too undertake.
So, in addition to dealing with chemo and radiation side effects there is also post-surgical pain and the physical and emotional loss of part of your body. These are not simple and easy treatments too undertake. Some patients have jobs and must keep working throughout the process to help make ends meet as their medical bills continue to pile up, despite not feeling well. And it is easy to forget about the indirect costs, such as gas for driving to and from the doctor’s office or the treatment center which may be several hours away.
Yet, each of these women was extremely pleasant to work with and all had smiles on their faces while I was shooting the pictures. I was truly humbled by their attitudes and determination!
Financial Assistance from StringsforaCURE to these patients comes in the form of $100 gift cards for gas, grocery and pharmacy needs. But for those in dire financial straits due to having to stop working or just increasing medical debt, StringsforaCURE provides Medical Grants to cover the cost of medically necessary supplies and services not covered by insurance, as well as Living Expense grants to cover the cost of the mortgage, rent, car or health insurance and utilities.
One of the women photographed received a transport chair and ramp as she became disabled due to her worsening health.
Unfortunately, that woman lost her battle with breast cancer earlier this year. Faces of STRINGS 2015 is dedicated to Sylvia, a very strong woman beloved by so many.
I am so proud to be involved with the helping hands of the StringsforaCURE Foundation which provides so much support and financial assistance directly to breast cancer patients whole need it most. And when my interest in photography intersects with the work of the foundation, I feel very lucky! I am inspired!
For more information the StringsforaCURE website.