As an Ottawa Boudoir Photographer, I meet many different women from all ages and at different stages in their lives. Recently I received a call from a client who wanted to book a boudoir session as soon as possible, with a deadline a couple of weeks away. Occasionally we do get last minute requests, but this one was different. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer and they are doing a mastectomy on the 15th” she told me on the phone. Her words struck me hard, because not only was she merely a year younger than me, but I had just witnessed my own mother go through the same ordeal a year ago. There was a calmness but a slight sense of fragility in her voice. I couldn’t have imagined what this woman was going through emotionally but she sounded like she had accepted the fact and was ready to do what it takes to survive. She wanted to document this moment in her life, before a difficult journey (emotionally and physically) unfolded and have beautiful portraits of her breasts that she could look back on to show how she fought for her life.
This is Miss L’s story in her words:
Q: What’s going on in your life right now that motivated you to do a session?
Miss L: I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
Q: Besides beautiful photographs, what else did you hope to get out of the experience?
Miss L: I wanted to do something that the old me would have NEVER have considered doing or even brave enough to do. I wanted to challenge myself.
Q: How long had you been considering doing a shoot before you booked yours? What was the final push? What did it feel like to finally book your session?
Miss L: I only had been considering doing a shoot for a few weeks before my session was booked. I didn’t think I had the guts to do it but as my surgery (mastectomy) was fast approaching I realized that this was something that I needed to do for myself.
Q: Before your session, how would you describe your relationship with your body, your beauty and your sensuality?
Miss L: Before my diagnosis I would never have even considered doing a boudoir shoot because I didn’t really like my body that much. I especially didn’t like my small breasts.
Q: How did doing a session affect how you feel about your body, your beauty and your sensuality?
Miss L: After my diagnosis I suddenly saw my body in a completely different way. I realized that I was beautiful and sexy exactly as I was. it’s funny how sometimes it takes losing something to realize what you have. doing a session made me feel even more beautiful and sexy.
Q: What were you worried about before your session? What helped to overcome that?
Miss L: I wasn’t really worried about anything before my session. I was a little bit nervous but I was mostly excited by the challenge.
Q: Tell me about your session day: How did you feel on your way over? What were your favorite parts? How did you feel on the way home?
Miss L: On my way over I felt a little bit nervous! I loved everything about the session (getting my hair and makeup done, doing all the different poses,…). On my way home I felt a little bit tired (being a model is hard work, lol), but mostly I felt very happy and proud of myself!
Q: What were you feeling when you saw your photos at the viewing?
Miss L: I was so happy with the results that I actually shed a couple of tears. The pictures were so beautiful!
Q: Why did you decide to hire me as your photographer?
Miss L: I contacted you because you had excellent web reviews and I loved the pictures on your website. I hired you as my photographer because when we spoke on the phone and when we met for the consultation, I found that you were very professional but also a very kind and considerate person.
Q: If your friend were considering doing a shoot, what would you say to encourage her?
Miss L: If I can do it you can too! I absolutely loved the experience!!!
I applaud Miss L for taking this leap of faith with me and am extremely honoured that she chose me to capture these gorgeous portraits of her. Beating cancer is possible, but you must be proactive with self checks and regular mammograms — and most of all, have a positive attitude! Although breast exams are not a mandatory part of your annual physical with your GP, ask your doctor if you have the slightest suspicion about finding a lump. For more information on Breast Cancer, please visit the Canadian Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/breast-cancer/?region=on