Just before Christmas, I was contacted by a lovely lady with an enquiry about a newborn/family shoot. She was expecting baby #5, and it was going to be a lovely celebration!
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I thought of their family again with an idea that I wanted to shoot for this past weekend’s AIPP Qld Epson Professional Photography Awards. I contacted Abbey to discuss my idea. She loved it, however, upon driving past the location I had in mind, I realised that the gorgeous purple bougainvillea that I needed for my concept, had dropped all of it’s flowers!
However, something Abbey had mentioned during our conversations, resonated with me, and I my gut instinct told me that it was an important thing to do.
You see, Abbey, and many of her family members are carriers of the BRCA1 genetic mutation, which puts her at a very high risk of developing breast cancer. Abbey made the very brave decision to have a double mastectomy to protect her future and to ensure that her beautiful family would always have a mum, safe from the terrible disease.
With many of her family members having developed the disease, it was a very real possibility that Abbey would too, and in years to come, it will affect her daughters and their future generations in the same way. They will all need to be continued to be tested for the gene, until the mutation is no longer present.
Abbey went through with the surgery a few years ago, and underwent a successful breast reconstruction too. However, she has since welcomed 2 more beautiful babes into her family. Even though she faced the disease head on, it was not without it’s challenges and her two younger babies were not able to be breastfed. Having known the beauty and bonding of breastfeeding with her older 3 children and the health benefits it also has, Abbey has struggled with guilt and many other emotions for her youngest two.
Our final image is a beautiful celebration of the strength that Abbey has and her openness and honesty with dealing with the challenges that BRCA1 has forced upon her and her family. Her eldest daughters support her on each side, knowing that one day they will be faced with the same challenges. The pink tones of the image pay homage to the The Pink Ribbon campaign to raise funds for Breast Cancer research, as is the pink ribbon that Abbey wears over her bandages.
Her 5 week old baby daughter, is being lovingly bottle fed, by the beautiful, brave woman, who brought her into the world.
Unlike many breast cancer images, I chose to make this one beautiful, and colourful, just as Abbey and her family are.
This image scored a silver award yesterday at the 2015 AIPP Qld Epson Professional Photography Awards. This is a great validation for Abbey and her family, that her message is as wonderful as she is. Thank-you to Abbey for being so willing to share your story to support the journey that other BRCA1 carriers face, and for trusting me to be able to tell it for you.
You can show your support to Abbey and others just like her, by visiting the National Breast Cancer Foundation and making a donation toward further research.