For Mother's day this year I created a little project that is very close to my heart. Four days before my 36th birthday, March 11 of 2019, I got the news that changed my life forever. A year ago I was diagnosed with BRCA1 gene, the same gene that Angelina Jolie has, which means we have a high risk of getting breast cancer (in our case 87%) and ovarian cancer (50% for her, 63% for me) due to the family history.
And just like Angelina, I decided to do a preventive double mastectomy with nipple spearing and reconstruction on March 1st, 2019. Ten days later I went in for a check-up to find out that I am now stage 1, triple negative, most aggressive breast cancer survivor. I consider myself very blessed because they found it very early. I did lose my grandmother and my aunt to this horrible disease.
In these pictures, I captured moms going through breast, colon and thyroid cancers.
Happy Mother’s day to all moms out there!
#1 Lauren, Thyroid Cancer
Cancer diagnoses was an eye-opener for me, only now I started to really live. I thank God for every day spent with my kids and family. Every day for me is a gift. I spend more time with my kids doing things, making memories and not just existing. When I found out about my cancer, my first thought was if I die, there is no one in this world that could take better care of my boys (ages 4 & 6) better than me. I’m a photographer and I am always behind the camera, but never in the pictures, I started to worry if they would even remember me. The minute I was all healed up from the surgery – I took them out for pictures. And that gave me an idea to photograph moms going through cancer treatments and their children because I’m sure they had to feel the same way I did. With medical bills piling up not everyone can afford a professional photographer.
#2 Viktorija, Stage 4, Triple Negative Breast Cancer
With this project I wanted to show all the strong cancer fighters, fighting for their life, to be with their children, cancer can’t stop them from being moms and spending time with their family. Cancer does not discriminate, it doesn’t care if you are a mom, if you have 1 kid or 12.
#3 Giedre (Myself), Stage 1, Triple Negative Breast Cancer Survivor
What I learned from this crazy experience was that I shouldn’t wait to lose weight to take pictures, chances are you will gain another 10 pounds in the next 5 years and think why didn’t I take pictures when I was younger and skinnier. Your kids love you unconditionally, they don’t care if your nails are done or not, or if your grey roots are showing, or if you are bold or wearing a wig. Take pictures and make memories that last a lifetime. And go get tested, especially if you have a family history of cancers. While working on this mother’s day picture series for the past 3 weeks I realized that I don’t want to stop after mother’s day, it feels so good to give back and I'm thankful that God gave me this gift to do so and I will continue photographing local mothers and grandmothers with cancer.