Survivor Sessions – Part 1: The Inspiration

Two weeks ago, I put out a post on my Facebook and Instagram for models. One of the models I was looking for was an “inspirational woman (any level of wisdom)”. When Sue shared with me a story of her friend, I just knew this was the woman I wanted to build a photo shoot around. This was originally supposed to be just a quick session to create a specific photo I had in my head, but after reading Sue’s comments I had to dig deeper. I was truly inspired and wanted to create more than a photo, but a full experience her friend would never forget.

A True Fighter

Cindy, our nominee, has already inspired me to take this project to the next level. A resident of the city of Flint, she was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2006. A single mother of two, she cried for 24 hours. After gathering her strength, she made the choices needed in order to continue to support her family. She beat it!

Cindy married her soulmate, Mark, on 9-9-09, but the honeymoon period was cut short. It happened again, and again. Beating cancer once is a great feat, but to have beaten it three times is amazing. Her grandmother would say that you have to laugh to keep from crying (something I personally live by). The beauty of this is that the more you smile the more you truly believe in happiness, but after all she's been through, the joy Cindy emanates is that much more breathtaking. Her personal strength and the beautiful life giving support of her friends and family leaves me in awe.

After having close to 20 surgeries plus other related medical procedures, Cindy decided it was time to start writing a book about all the madness she's been through. Unfortunately, after being “cancer free” for five years, she was yet again faced by her doctor explaining she had breast cancer. This time it had metastasized to her sinuses, an extremely rare occurrence, making her the first patient in Flint, MI with this condition. This time she faced it head on. She had beaten it before. Why not again?!

Celebrating Life

This is when I was introduced. Cindy had just completed radiation treatment and was preparing to start chemo during her fourth fight. True, this may not be when fighters feel their most beautiful, but this is when they need the most support. After hearing Cindy’s story, listening to the joy and optimism in her voice, and seeing a picture of her facing her fears, I truly believe she is beautiful inside and out.

Cindy’s story spoke personally to me, as I want to honor the members my family struck by cancer. I especially want to honor my Auntie B. who has won multiple fights with breast cancer (though I’m jealous of the sunny skies she enjoys). Her warrior spirit reminds me to live life with Aloha. Also, my father who fought hard but passed of an undetermined cancer, was a free spirit who reminded me that sometimes the most rewarding work is done with your hands, live your passion and carve your own path. I reflect on their bravery every day.  May we all be so blessed to have heroes in our lives.

Sue and Cindy at the Flint Zombie Walk
Sue & Cindy at the Annual Flint Zombie Walk
Cindy and Mark's wedding day
Cindy & Mark, married 9-9-09
Cindy and the Radiation Mask
Cindy facing down her radiation mask for the last time. (Or as she put it, "The Silence of the Lambs Mask")

2 thoughts on “Survivor Sessions – Part 1: The Inspiration

  1. That left me in tears. Really beautiful. Thank you for honoring our family and using your talent to inspire others

  2. I am honored I was able to help with the bridal gown. We are also very excited to see the picture and follow your amazing journey. You are an inspiration!
    Erin Heinz

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