I recently had the pleasure of photographing Rachel. She inquired shortly after her adoring husband tried to help her with a boudoir shoot and right before she was set to go through a preventative and invasive surgery. A bi-lateral mastectomy.
Rachel, by her own omission, has a pretty wonderful life. Married to a wonderful man with two teen boys at home and one adult daughter raising her own beautiful family. She loves her meaningful job as a massage therapist working with hospice and oncology patients.
Like most women, she has her ups and downs about her own body. She loves that her body is mostly healthy and allows her to help others with pain relief and relaxation. "My body is a wonderful tool! I have not always loved the way my body looks, but I’m growing to like it." In the Spring of 2021, Rachel was diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer. She made the tough decision to get a bilateral mastectomies. With a history of breast cancer in her family, she wanted to ensure the risk of reoccurrence was as low as possible.
"I went through a period of grief over losing my breasts. At 46 years old, I’m done with breastfeeding but not my sexuality! I felt like my breasts had turned on me, my body had betrayed me.
After consulting with a cosmetic surgeon and speaking with a family member who’s had mastectomies without reconstruction, I decided to have the reconstruction after all. With or without the reconstructive surgery, my body was going to be changed forever.
It was not an easy admission, but the realization that it’s not my breast's fault, hit me pretty hard."
Rachel decided to book a boudoir session to commemorate the breasts that were such a big part of her life. She wanted something to remind her that her breasts weren't traders. They are victims of the cancer, as well.
"This boudoir session not only showed them off, but honored them" I asked Rachel what she hoped to capture or experience from your shoot? and most importantly, did we achieve it?! What did you learn about yourself through this experience? "I wanted to feel good about my body. To feel sexy in the body I have instead of wishing it would change. We achieved it fabulously! I have learned that I am a sexy, beautiful woman :) The lady in the images still doesn’t feel like me. But I’m starting to see my normal everyday self in her." What's next for Rachel's journey? "My mastectomy surgery is complete. We’re in the process of reconstruction, which will take a few months. I should have the implant surgery early in 2022. After I’m all healed up, I plan to return and have a second session with Sarah to celebrate my healed, healthier body!"
**Which I cannot wait for!!** Rachel's words of wisdom to the readers? Grief doesn’t only happen when someone dies. Many occurrences throughout our lives can cause us to grieve. Honor this time so you can come out the other side stronger and ready to take on the world.