Woman Warriors Program:
Nominate someone for our monthly
“Woman Warrior” Spotlight!
This program is designed to honor women who have experienced Breast Cancer or been victims of domestic violence.
Each month, one woman will be selected to receive a 90-minute Boudoir Session.
ShadleyStudios was honored to have Jessica as our first Woman Warrior!
Jessica is such a strong woman! I was so grateful to work with her. She is positive and just flat out amazing!
Here is her story:
"I am 32 years old, a wife, a mother of 4. I have two boys, ages 9 and 6, and two girls, ages 5 and 3. In December 2019, I discovered what felt like a marble in my left breast. In February 2020, after a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Prior to receiving biopsy results, I was told that what I was feeling was most likely a fibroadenoma. The number one question I have been asked is whether breast cancer runs in my family. I have no family history of breast cancer and my age doesn’t “meet criteria”. Since being diagnosed, I have undergone two surgeries, completed 8 rounds of chemotherapy and 35 treatments of radiation. I am currently cancer free and taking a medication called Tamoxifen. My breast cancer was estrogen positive; tamoxifen blocks the effects of estrogen in breast tissue. If I have learned anything from my experience, I learned how strong I am, something I had previously doubted. If I can encourage a woman to do anything, it would be to always listen to your instincts and be persistent when you feel as though something is not right (with your body). Never wait, please, don’t wait"
Braver and Stronger
Feb 2nd 2019: My Birthday and the dreaded phone call came. I had breast cancer. Happy Birthday to me, what a present to receive on that day! One week before I felt a lump on my left breast and had the mammogram and ultrasound. I went into those appointments feeling optimistic, I had found a lump before years ago and it turned out to be a cyst and I had dense cystic breasts. I thought for sure the same result would occur. I knew it was different and not good news when the radiologist wanted to ultrasound my armpit and asked that if he saw anything there if he could biopsy that area as well. He told me right away that it was cancer and he was certain during the biopsy that it would come back cancerous, we just had to know what kind. I started hyperventilating. I was in my mid 40’s, no history of breast cancer in my family. I was a mother to a 10 year old boy and had only been with my boyfriend for 2 years. It wasn’t fair, why me; those were my first thoughts. Then it got worse, turns out that lump was estrogen positive and HER2 positive. HER2 positive was an aggressive form of cancer and earned me an MRI and MRI biopsies. The results of those biopsies rocked my world even further and complicated my case. I had another form of breast cancer in the left breast: Triple negative. The MOST aggressive form you could have and the one that recurs the most. Thank god I chose to do my treatments in Boston and was at Dana Farber, because if I was going to be a complicated case, I needed to be with some of the best.
I spent one week feeling sorry for myself, then surrounded by love and support from my village, I vowed to not let cancer steal anything away from me. I rose up and decided to be Braver and Stronger and that became my mantra through it all!! It’s a famous saying from Winnie the Pooh and I am a HUGE Disney fanatic and so it became the perfect mantra for me. I endured 20 rounds of chemotherapy with some of the hardest medications. I lost my hair and was bald! The only good thing about losing your hair was that I didn’t have to shave for almost 6 months. Silver lining for sure! I was sick and I was tired, but I worked through it all. I opted for a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and lucky for me I was able to even spare my nipples. Although I now wish my “foobies” were a little more perky but they are very realistic looking. 2019 was my hardest year and through it all, I survived and became a stronger version of myself and it truly put everything into perspective. I was Braver and Stronger through side effects of chemo, through surgery and my village never let me down. My son and boyfriend were incredible through it all. We even got married in September (bald and with a wig on) and it was only 1 month post chemo.
I now give back. I have spoken to more strangers that are going through the same thing and have provided unconditional support to them. I am part of the Dana Farber soulmates program and hope to mentor others. Being positive and not letting cancer steal anything from you is so critically important to how you manage the diagnosis and disease. This photo shoot is a gift to me but also for my husband, and to everyone who is struggling through a breast cancer diagnosis. I will continue to be Braver and Stronger!
You are Braver than you Believe
You are Stronger than you Seem
You are Smarter than you Think
And you are Loved more than you will ever Know
~Winnie the Pooh
Just prior to Covid, I lost my dad and my brother suddenly. They passed away only 10 months apart. I had just graduated nursing school when we lost my my brother and my dad got sick. In the middle of my grief, I was learning how to be a nurse starting out in the emergency room. Plus, being a nurse has never been an easy job, especially with a pandemic going on. I worked in the emergency room as a new nurse for a year before Covid-19 started. I spent countless hours putting on and taking off PPE over and over again. I held patients hands who weren’t allowed a visitor on their scariest days. I cried in the supply room after losing patients to Covid and facetiming their families so they could say goodbye. I was burnt out, as were (and are) all of my coworkers. After a year of grief and loss in both my personal and work lives, the vaccine came out. I decided to become a vaccine nurse in addition to my ER job. I figured that giving vaccines was the best way to prevent patients from going to the ER and being as sick as they were. I love both of my jobs despite how trying they can be at times. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a nurse and for each patient that allows me to care for them.
The past few years have been extremely difficult but as a result, I have learned to cherish every single day. I now spend a little more time on me instead of always taking care of everybody else. The little things don’t bother me like they used to and I hug my loved ones a lot tighter. “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”