This is Jessie. She is 16 years old and the youngest of 5 sisters. I photographed her and her family in May of 2012 and have since had photo sessions with her sisters. On February 27th Jessie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Being one of 5 daughters as well, I can only imagine what this type of diagnosis would feel like. Absolutely heartbreaking...
This is a strong girl with a strong support system. I have already seen an amazing outpouring of love on Facebook!
I wanted to share this story so I could help spread the support and get more love, positivity and prayers going Jessie's way! She just started chemo on Monday and I'm sure she would appreciate it!
If you would like to wish Jessie well or send her a nice message, write a status on Facebook and hashtag #jessieSTRONG. Let's show this beauty some love!
Also, if you would like to follow Jessie's progress, go to www.carepages.com and search: Jessie Davin. Find out ways to donate and support Jessie along her journey!
Happy New Year to all!! I would like to start this first blog of the New Year with some great news!!
Back in October I photographed a girl named Danielle (See Blog post titled "A Beautiful Fighter"). She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was shaving her hair before chemo to donate it to Locks-of-Love. Well, I am pleased to inform that Danielle is starting off 2013 in remission!!! She is such a rockstar and I couldn't be happier for her! What a great way to begin this New Year!
In the blog post about Danielle I also talked about her sister. There is a lot of love between these two sisters. It reminds me of how lucky I am to have my sisters.
Leslie *She is Beautiful!*
Leslie. My oldest sister. She is an incredibly intelligent, theatrical spirit. I've always looked up to her.
As a kid I can still remember sitting in the basement playing 'school' and Leslie was always the teacher. Her name always was Miss Zeek. She would stand in front of our desks with her pen and paper, writing down our lunch orders to give to the lunch lady/principal (aka our mom).
Through the years, I've had many talks with Leslie that have really meant a lot to me. And, believe me, this girl can talk! :)
To my first school teacher, I love you! You are an amazing person, don't ever forget that!
Diana *She is Beautiful!*
Diana... The little troublemaker! The one who wrote some of the best diary entries as a kid that we get to fully enjoy reading now!
She is one of the reasons I went to art school to pursue Photography! With a creative mind and beautiful outlook on life, she has really found a way to truly be herself. I always love talking to her about my creative ideas and get her feedback. Both of our minds can just dance with ideas!
To my fellow art-schooler, I love you, Sis! Never lose that light that shines so bright in you!
Erica *She is Beautiful!*
Erica. The one that I always had to share a room with. We had plenty of moments of getting on each other's nerves, but also many moments of making each other laugh. Erica has always been a nurturer. She loves kids and has always had a huge heart.
Growing up we were always together. When we finally were at the age of having our own rooms they were right next to each other. Every night I would either hear The Sound of Music or Sister Act playing on her tv. This may have led to a conclusion that she would someday be a nun (although she did not).
To my older, but always shorter sister, I love you! Always smile, because your smile is contagious!
I do have one more sister. I wrote about her in my second ever blog post! She was the first True Beauty picture I took!
To my later-in-life sister, Madison, I love you! You always love to play pretend. Whether you are pretending to be Rose, the big girl dolphin trainer, or Nala, the big girl leopard... To me, you will always be my little bean! :)
My Mom :) *She is Beautiful!*
My last blog post was about mother-daughter relationships. This theme has also been present in a couple of the other posts I've written. This is because I cannot stress enough how important it is to have some sort of mother-daughter bond to strengthen us as we get older.
Growing up, I've had a very strong bond with my mom. She is one of the most amazing women I know! Full of strength, full of love, and definitely full of beauty! She has taught me a lot of important life lessons that I still hold true to this day. She is the reason I'm so true to who I am, and the reason I know how to stand my own ground. I'm truly lucky to have an amazing mom that supports and loves me. I hope that one day my daughter will look at me with the same amount of love, respect and graciousness as I do for my mom.
So, I would like to say thank you to my mother. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life and always calling me to tell me you love me and your proud of me. Thank you for always being there to make me smile and to kiss my boo-boos when I'm hurt. Thank you for showing me how to be strong and how to love with my whole heart.
To all the other moms who are showing their daughters that it's ok to be yourself... Thank you.
"Fathers be good to your daughters.
*They are Beautiful!*
"How do I look?" - This is a question that we often ask. We are asking others a question we should be answering ourselves. We often seek the approval of those around us in hopes to fit a stereotypical genre of 'beauty' that society is trying to form. What we should be doing is stop focusing on appearances so that we can start focusing on what's important in ourselves, as well as others.
I just recently read a quote from actress and mother, Jada Pinkett Smith. After her daughter, Willow, shaved her head she was asked by a reporter why she let her do it. This was her response:
"The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First, the 'LET' must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls, are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It's also a statement that claims that even little girls should have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother's deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be..."
What an amazingly accurate statement. This is exactly what this True Beauty project is about. I obviously don't personally know Jada Pinkett Smith or her daughter Willow. But, after hearing her words spoken so true, I would love to one day photograph them for my project.
Tonight I drove to Harrison, Ohio to meet with a girl named Danielle. A friend recommended that I contact her for my True Beauty project, saying that she would be great for it. Danielle was diagnosed with breast cancer in June. Within a few weeks of her diagnosis the progression of cancer had gotten worse. She has been going through treatments, including chemo, which she will be going to tomorrow.
I met Danielle at a hair salon because tonight she shaved her head. As she walked into the salon, and I met her for the first time, she smiled at me. What a beautiful beaming smile she has. Behind her came a flock of support in the form of family and friends. It was amazing to see a room full of people all there for her at such an emotional time. As the hair stylist started speaking with Danielle the tears started to pour. I immediately felt myself well up.
We all walked back to the chair where Danielle sat down and started to cry harder. She told the hair stylist to save as much hair as she could to donate it to Locks-of-Love. Then came the first cut...
As the scissors started to cut, almost everyone in the room began to cry. This was more than hair. After her ponytail was gone the clippers began to buzz. She asked to turn the chair around so she couldn't look in the mirror. After a somber few minutes, her sister made a joke. And then, something beautiful happened. Her smile re-appeared...
I took one True Beauty picture Before her haircut and one After. No matter the length of her hair, her beauty is measured from within. What a beautiful fighter she is!
Almost immediately after standing up from the stylist's chair, her sister sat down...
Danielle then watched as her sister, Tiffany, shaved her head in support. The emotions began to flood the room again. Both of these woman were amazingly beautiful and strong. Danielle has already shown great strength in her fight against breast cancer and will continue to do so with the support of her family and friends.
Tiffany's hair was also donated. What amazingly beautiful ladies, inside and out! I feel honored to have been able to photograph them. They are Truly Beautiful!