The SCAR Project: Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon

Fashion Photographer, David Jay, was inspired to act when his friend, a young woman of 32, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The SCAR Project features large scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors. The project began as a way to raise awareness, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women ages 15-40. The SCAR Project participants range from ages 18 to 35. These photographs represent their courage, their personal victory over the disease, and remind them that they are not alone. 

Hairspray

Today, as I twirled a few strands of hair with my fingers, memories of how my Mom used to cut my hair came flooding back. As a little girl, when people would ask me what my Mom did, I would say that she was a hairdresser, and she had, in fact, gone to hairdressing school.

Around grade 7 or 8, everyone started ironing their hair – I’m not talking flat iron – I’m talking real iron. I told my Mom the theory; “Lets try it.” She replied. She pulled out the ironing board, brushed out my hair, and literally, ironed it (in the traditional sense) until it was straight. We used this method until finally we got a flat iron that worked on our curls.

In my twenties, I asked her to cut my bangs, and she messed them up so badly, “Moooom,” I whined, halfway between amused and annoyed “Seriously?” She couldn’t stop grinned, “Hold still.” She told me with a half laugh, “Stop making that face.” She chopped at my hair in an attempt to fix the damage, “I’ll fix it.” she promised, “There, go look in the mirror.” She would always say this when she was done. She had managed to make the bangs look decent, but the next time I asked, I reminded her of the incident and the whole process started over.

A month before Christmas, two years ago, my Mom came home from shopping, “Look what I bought while Baba was busy!” She announced proudly. “Mom! What are you doing buying things right before Christmas!?” I asked her a little annoyed as I was currently struggling to find her a gift. “It’s for both of us.” she told me, a twinkle in her eye as she called me into the kitchen to unpack the purchase. “We got a new hair straightener, curling wand, mini straightener, and…Do you notice anything different?” she giggled as I gave her a once over. “Extensions!” I exclaimed. “Yes!” she laughed, “Aren’t they cool! Your friends are going to be soooo jealous!” At this point I couldn’t help but laugh and agree, my initial frustration completely gone. My Mom was cool (did I mention all the appliances were in zebra print?) but she was also the most thoughtful and generous person I knew.

These memories made me smile, and I realized that these might be some of the first memories I’ve experienced without also feeling sad.

I’ll Wait For You In The Wings

After weeks of practicing the day had finally arrived! I waited in the wings of the stage with jitterbugs in my stomach. I was by no means coordinated, but I had managed to learn the “Cotten Eye Joe” jazz routine along with the other little girls. Irregardless, when I stepped out onto the stage, all those weeks of practice seemed to fly out the window as I caught Mums eye. I grinned and waved, rather than dancing. Yup! I was that kid!  After the recital Mum hugged me, and I didn’t take another dance class for a long time.

More than fifteen years later, I was climbing onto a plane to fly half way around the world for a third of the year. I cried as I was leaving, but Mum hugged me and told me that it was an adventure! “I’ll be here when you get back,” she promised. Four months later, after having the most amazing experiences in Australia and India. My Mom and Step Dad picked me up from the airport to welcome me home. Mom listened to all my stories and I showed her ten thousand pictures. She was a patient individual. My Mom told me afterwards that I would carry that trip with me for the rest of my life.

No matter what I did or where I went, Mum was always there on the sidelines, cheering me on as my biggest fan. Today, I half expected her to transcend time and space to wish me a Happy Birthday. When she got sick, I asked her what I would do if something happened to her? She told me, “You can’t get rid of me that easily.” She was right, even though she’s physically no longer here,  she’s with me in everything I do. I see her when I unexpectedly catch my own reflection, I hear her in my voice, and I feel her in the beat of my heart. Tonight, I will visit with her in my dreams and know that she is watching over me as she, as always, waits patiently in the wings.

The Ties That Bind

tree

As a birthday present to myself (one of several including new clothes and a massage) I am putting together a family tree. I want to know where I come from and the backgrounds of those people who made it possible for me to be here today! I’m starting small, filling in what I know (hopefully no mistakes) but as I move higher into the branches the task becomes significantly more challenging. Great grand parents are only vague recollections in my memory, if I have them at all, as I struggle through trying to come up with first names – beyond that is lost to me. You get to a point where the whole process becomes a little sad, because you realize that with only one grandparent and one parent left alive, a lot of that history, has faded away.  Thankfully I still have my Baba who can help me fill in my Moms side of the family tree. My Dads side becomes a bit more challenging, and ironically, this is this side that I have the most questions about. I’m pretty certain that I have some First Nation or Metis ancestors over there who I would really like to get to know, at least, in the sense of where they belonged and the culture they might have participated in. It becomes a bit of a treasure hunt, as you dig up old documents and wonder about the lives that are bound to you by blood yet lost to you through time and memory. So here’s to hoping I can revive a few of these memories and learn a little bit about myself all at the same time as I celebrate my own quarter of a century.

Nectar List

  1. I’ve hugged a dolphin
  2. I’ve snorkeled the great barrier reef
  3. I’ve stayed over night in the rain forest
  4. I’ve taken surf lessons
  5. I’ve held a koala
  6. I’ve pet a kangaroo (many of them actually)
  7. I taught myself to snowboard
  8. I spent four months travelling
  9. I’ve travelled to India
  10. I’ve learned little bits of other languages
  11. I’ve gone portaging
  12. I’ve loved so much it hurt
  13. I’ve jumped off a cliff into a quarry
  14. I’ve gone sky diving
  15. I’ve gone skinny dipping
  16. I’ve swam with all my clothes on
  17. I’ve completed two degrees
  18. I’ve worn a sari
  19. I’ve built the perfect snow fort
  20. I’ve built the perfect indoor fort
  21. I’ve learned to cook
  22. I’ve ridden a motorcycle
  23. I’ve seen a dog riding on a motorcycle with goggles
  24. I’ve made friends that are like sisters
  25. I’ve walked on the Hollywood stars
  26. I’ve held an iguana wearing a sombrero
  27. I’ve moved to another province on my own
  28. I’ve seen the Sydney opera house
  29. I’ve driven along the west coast
  30. I’ve gone whale watching
  31. I’ve sung at the top of my lungs
  32. I’ve seen the Taj Mahal
  33. I’ve decorated the neighborhood in July with Christmas ornaments
  34. I’ve played pranks
  35. I miss people easily
  36. I’ve won horseback riding competitions
  37. I’ve planned some awesome themed parties
  38. I’ve worked hard
  39. I’ve been buried in sand
  40. I’ve adventured off the beaten path
  41. I hiked when I didn’t think I could (the views were worth it)
  42. I’ve been in a play
  43. I’ve sung in a choir
  44. I’ve done public readings
  45. I’ve gambled in Vegas
  46. I’ve skipped school to hang out with my friends and we still got all A’s
  47. I’ve been to the drive in
  48. I’ve gone tubing
  49. I’ve been on a cruise
  50. I’ve set off fireworks in India
  51. I’ve decorated an apartment
  52. I’ve helped a friend move
  53. I’ve volunteered
  54. I’ve daydreamed
  55. I’ve dreamed
  56. I’ve been in a natural hot spring
  57. I’ve seen mountains
  58. I’ve ziplined
  59. I’ve rock climbed
  60. I’ve danced the night way

Look After You

When someone you care for is in pain, be it emotional or physical, as a family member or friend, our first instinct is often, “What can I do to make it better?” An overwhelming need to fix what is wrong sets in as you wrap your arms around the individual and make promises that you can’t keep about everything being okay. Gazing into their gentle eyes, that hide the hurt and fear so well, a bubble of fear wells within your throat and you wonder if in fact, it is possible to help them, to save them, or if they have to save themselves, and if so, how?

A steady hand brushes away a strand of hair, as she tells you not to worry, that everything will be fine, with a resolve that can be mustered by someone who can only be described as a survivor. And your heart breaks because you know that she deserves so much better than the hand that she has been dealt. You wrack your brain for a solution, you try everything you can think of to make her feel better, but nothing seems to be working and your heart wavers between being strong for her and feeling hopeless.

In the end, you realize that no matter the circumstances, her light was brighter than the darkness that threatened to overwhelm her. Every pain made her grow stronger and appreciate what it means to laugh, and to love without conditions and every chance to be happy was another opportunity to believe in something again, to see the good amongst the pain, and to have hope that things would get better.

How The Sun Sees You

It might be relaxing to laze in the warm sun, spending the day getting a tan (or in my case, often a burn), but what are the effects the sun has on our skin? This video shows a glimpse of not-yet visible changes to our skin when individuals step under an ultra violent light.

Stay beautiful, stay safe, protect your skin.