Beauty is the light in the heart. – Khalil Gibran
You typically hear dating and relationship advice from me, but you also know that I look at life and love in a holistic way. After all, you can’t have healthy relationships with people unless you have a healthy relationship with yourself, and a connection to a healthy body. It all goes together, and leaving one aspect of yourself out of the big picture can leave you without the frame that holds it so dearly.
As a writer and champion for women, I felt an urge to write about this very important topic: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Last year I happened upon an article about an amazing woman by the name of Jill Brezinsky-Conley. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the early age of 31, just before her 32nd birthday, and was faced with a double-mastectomy as a newlywed. She had found her Prince Charming and then suddenly had to shift everything in her life. Her goals, dreams and plans were derailed.
After reading about her, watching her videos, and seeing the images from her gorgeous photo shoot by photographer Sue Bryce, it was clear to me that this woman was telling us something important.
An Unforgettable Message
Sue had given Jill a wonderful opportunity to do a fashion shoot in Paris to show us beauty in the face of Cancer. Her images have stayed with me, and I’ve often thought about Jill, although I’ve never met her. To me, she represents the numbers of women all over the world with the diagnosis of Cancer.
She radiates beauty, warmth and joy. The photo above is just one of the many transcendent photos from the shoot. You can see more of her story and images here.
These exquisite photos — the beauty that Jill radiated and that Sue captured — have given us another way to look at the journey so many women face with breast cancer.
I wanted the photo shoot to be for women who look like me. [To show them that] they can still feel sexy and beautiful, says Jill.
Sue shares that sentiment, saying her aim was to capture Jill’s incredible beauty, help to tell her story to inspire others, and educate the world about breast cancer.
After a year of being in remission, now at the age of 35, Jill has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Bone Cancer.
Being There for Yourself… and Those You Love
As a busy woman, I know how easy it is to skip appointments and put physical needs aside, whether it be for career, family, friends or even at times, a man. Your health is your #1 priority, for without it, you cannot be here for those you love.
On a personal note, my beautiful mom Thayer was diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and she is now in her 2nd week of radiation post-surgery. She’s doing well and in good spirits. Here she is just one week before her surgery:
I call her every day, and see her as much as I can. When I ask how she is feeling, her reply is:
Honey, I’m fine. My heart goes out to the women who get this early in life. That’s who should be your concern.
That’s my mom, always gracious, strong and thinking of others.
We have all seen far too many women suffer with breast cancer and at alarming young ages. I found out this past year on so many levels that you must be an advocate for your own health. The medical field is changing fast, and with this change, it is more important than ever before to listen to your intuition and your body.
Dense breast tissue is a great concern (yes, I have it myself) and I encourage you to learn more about this and ask for more than an annual mammogram. There is now a new 3-D imaging, but on top of that, I have asked for an ultrasound just to be sure.
Put yourself first. Get regular check ups and demand answers and attention from your doctors. No question or concern is too small. Cancer can happen at any age, at any time. Go past what you feel is reasonable and inquire, research and push the boundaries.
All for One…
We are all in this together and what happens to one of us happens to all of us. So to Jill Brazinski-Conley and every woman who has dealt with breast cancer, we honor and support you as sisters in this world. We admire your courage and grace and collectively offer an invisible embrace and prayers of hope.
Recently, the wonderful people at the Lynn Cohen Foundation gave me tremendous advice and support during my mother’s diagnosis. They are a fantastic foundation, offering education and resources to women for the prevention and diagnosis of Cancer. Find more information at The Lynn Cohen Foundation Website.
For Jill’s foundation: JillsWish
Much love as always,