project: 'I am Beautiful'
After learning of my mother’s diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer and taking this journey with her in the battle against this deadly disease and humbling experience, it has become my mission to help these women feel beautiful again! It is my desire to create a Fine Art intimate photography coffee table book of their lovely bodies displayed in a thematic approach, soft and beautiful with the conveyance of the roughness they have overcome.
Needs & Problems
Women dealing with breast cancer have so many things to worry about, from juggling everyday family life to time off work while healing from this deadly disease. On top of that, they have to grieve the loss of their hair, a breast or two, gaining weight from treatment, otherwise, feeling unattractive and just plain ugly!! It is not the way we see them, but this is how they are left to feel. This leaves such a feeling of hopelessness for these women. These are some of the strongest women I have ever met in my life. They are powerful and beautiful and they need to see that. There is no better way to see yourself as ‘beautiful’ until you can see yourself through the eyes of another. I would love them to see themselves as I see them. My book will provide those images for these very women…a place where they can announce to the world . . .‘I am Beautiful’!
Another very serious problem, particularly during this economic crisis that we are currently in, Cancer does not wait until you are financially secure to strike. These days people are struggling to keep their jobs and homes, but women continue to be told every day that they have breast cancer. Every two minutes, another woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Stress is not kind to women who are struggling to fight for their lives. Increasing funding for financial assistance to women healing from breast cancer will allow these women to concentrate solely on healing, both physically and emotionally.
Reason for Funding Request
If I am able to secure funding for the initial project itself, I could offer 100% of the proceeds from sales of the book to be designated to aid women in getting through the financial challenges that come along with all the other challenges that breast cancer creates. For example, if I could raise $250,000 for the initial project to create the book and sell a minimum of 100,000 books at $40 per book, it would raise $4 million for the cause.
For the sustainability of the project, we could then take $250,000 from the profit and do it all over again. Over two years’ time, you are looking at the cause being funded by approximately $7.5 million (with $500,000 returning to the project fund to continue the process) as opposed to a one-time $500,000 contribution to the foundation over a two-year time period. The funder(s) of this project will be duly noted and will be a hero for many women and their families, including the women modeling for the book and the women benefiting from the funds raised!
Goals and Objectives
My goal is to photograph 40 to 50 women for inclusion in a fine art photography book with proceeds being donated to breast cancer foundations. I would like to create a traveling exhibit with enlarged images taken from the book, which could possibly earn additional funds for the foundation. I feel this will offer HOPE that there is life after cancer to those women who are currently dealing, or who will in the future have to deal, with these same issues. In addition, I would like to have the entire project filmed to create a documentary with their personal stories and how project: ‘I am Beautiful’ has helped them.
I am an artist, author, creative designer, photographer, and visionary. I am self-taught as a photographer and have photographed myself during a time in which I lacked self-esteem and I know how much that experience helped me to see myself in a different light.
I have been exhibited in galleries, once being exhibited at the Florida International Museum during the one-year anniversary of the terrorists’ attacks where I exhibited my series ‘Child’s Play’ which was my interpretation, from a child’s perspective, of the tragedies of September 11th.
I formerly owned & operated a corporate litigation document/discovery management company for 15 years, which consisted of complete organizational skills while managing multiple projects at once.
Support from our Surgeon
from John V. Kiluk, MD
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Breast cancer is one of the most traumatic events any female can go through. Even though there are many degrees of severity when it comes to the diagnosis of breast cancer, it is all equally frightening and confusing. Many women state that the experience of breast cancer is nearly as bad as losing a child.
Over the last several decades, we have made unbelievable progress in the awareness and treatment of breast cancer. Before the pink ribbons, women would rarely get mammograms. Women were afraid to seek medical attention and would be afraid to talk to others about their condition. Women were isolated and outcomes were not good.
Fortunately, women have learned to be, as I call it, “loud and obnoxious!” The ability to share their experiences with others has made a tremendous difference in overcoming this terrifying diagnosis. Women are spreading the word on mammograms in order to obtain earlier detection. Women are learning that Breast Cancer is NOT a death sentence and that there are options for treatment. Most importantly, women with cancer know that they are NOT alone.
Last week I was visiting with a patient in my clinic. She had received a mastectomy for an advanced form of breast cancer and was near the completion of her chemotherapy. In the past 6 months, she had lost her job, boyfriend, and house while undergoing treatment for her cancer. Where most people would crumble at this adversity, her attitude was amazing. Unfortunately, she began to tear up and said she wasn’t beautiful because her chest was flat from surgery and had she had no hair from her therapy. All that I could do was look at her and say that she was the definition of beauty.
I truly think that art, writing, photos, or websites that act as an outlet of emotions are critical for the nurturing of the breast cancer patient. Patients that express their loss, anger, shock, or fear are able to cope with an incomprehensible disease. Suppression of feelings does not heal the mind and that healing is a major part of the battle when dealing with cancer. Furthermore, by viewing the struggles of other women, a patient with breast cancer will realize the emotions they carry are not unique.
As with my inspiring patient in my clinic last week, she could not see the beauty in her own self. All women, no matter how old, no matter how ravaged by cancer, no matter how beat down emotionally, need to realize the beauty they all possess. This will help others with cancer as well as themselves get through this ordeal.