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Meet Mary | 2X Breast Cancer Survivor

Meet Mary… (In her own words)…

Mary has been married for 28 years with two amazing sons, and a flourishing interior design business. Mary’s first diagnosis, in SITU, was in 2007, discovered from a mammogram. No chemo, no radiation, just surgery, it returned stage 2, in 2009, discovered by self-examination. With the help of her Breast Cancer Angel (who later perished from the disease in 2010), her family and friends, Mary endured the chemo, surgery and radiation throughout 2009. During 2009, she worked her business between treatments. After this she began recovery and reclaiming her life. Today, after 21 years she still runs her business making warm welcome homes for her clients and friends. With only a few minor lifestyle changes, she is flourishing and enjoying travels between interior decorating projects. Her family, just as before, is still her love and focus. That is between enjoying and drinking up every day of life. She is passionate about supporting her sisters that have survived or are fighting this horrible disease.

I always ask the ladies to write a little bio about themselves…

I think Mary is pretty amazing, having battled twice… and I know this offers hope to other ladies out there who may be battling as well… She is 7 years cancer free!!! Let’s pray that it stays that way!

Let’s look at a few of her photos from her shoot…

Venue: The Bottle Factory | Monroe

Hair & Makeup: Next Level Makeup | Jackie Greene

Meet Liz | Stage 4 Breast Cancer Survivor

Meet Liz | Elizabeth Dunlow Campbell was initially diagnosed with breast cancer over 5 years ago. She fought hard with surgery & treatment and was in remission until August 25th 2016. Around that time, Liz noticed a cough, also some chest discomfort and difficulty breathing. After some testing, sadly she learned cancer has returned. In the beginning she had fluid drained three times within 10 days to alleviate pain and allow her to breathe. The cancer has metastasized to her bones (right and left pelvic, lower spine, front of skull, and right 3rd rib) and so far she has completed 6 cycles of chemotherapy pill and hormone therapy which helped in drying up the fluid on her lungs but did not help the bony lesions.

Elizabeth has done a lot of research on natural treatments and started a high dose IV Vitamin C treatment which unfortunately insurance did not cover. These treatments she would drive to Mooresville twice a week for and cost $170 per treatment. She has changed her and the kids eating to mostly organic.

Liz has two beautiful children, Greyson, 12 and Hannah, 9. She is a Monroe girl. Most know Steve Derrick and his wife Debbie who run “Country Grill” on Hwy 601 North.
Liz has always been an extremely hard working mom. She was in school in her third semester of radiology at the time of this most recent diagnosis. Liz is a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend- she has waitressed, been a student. Always has worked hard, not a complainer, beautiful role model for all who know her.

She now needs our help to allow her to focus on fighting this fight once again. We all know someone who either is now battling or has battled this awful disease. Her mind, her focus and intensity needs to be on healing, getting better and kicking cancer once again. Her pet scan shows she is in for a battle. She’s a fighter ~ Liz is a responsible hard working mom.

The Sunshine Project | This girl really has so much fight left in her! She is trying really hard to collect the funds to have some alternative treatments done at Chipsa hospital in Mexico, as her oncologist has told her there are not a lot of options left in conventional treatment if she doesn’t see a response to her current course of treatment. I am hoping she will make some progress with her goal and I’m hoping any of you that may see this, might help her to achieve it…

This is a non-profit organization, however, I would like to post Liz’ personal GoFundMe, so that if you would like to contribute.. you can. She would be eternally grateful! Elizabeth Dunlow Campbell’s Alternative Treatment Fund

I hadn’t met Liz until we did her Henna, we’ve been Facebook friends for awhile …as I encountered her via a friend, who posted about her journey some time back)! Upon meeting her I was really taken aback… in photos she looks vibrant and full of life. In person, she is all of that…. but she is struggling to breathe – photos do not show that side. She could barely catch her breath when we first saw each other, she was going later in the day to have the fluid drawn from her lungs. (On a side note, it amazes me… she will have the fluid drawn off and later will be at one of her kids meets or games).

She was so excited for her shoot the next day, but expressed that she hadn’t ever had a shoot like this… and she was a bit nervous. She had her makeup done and expressed she is not used to wearing so much makeup… and I assured her, in photos… it will be amazing! And it was…. The next day, we had our shoot… and at the end of the shoot, she expressed so much to me and still thinking about it, it just gives me chills…. She expressed how she has been struggling over the past weeks, she felt like she’d lost her hope…. she had so much to look forward to, she was going to school and cancer crept back in… she mentioned how down she has been recently and she felt like she’d fallen into a dark place and then she had this shoot to look forward to…. and she started to tear up and expressed her gratitude.

I’m so grateful to be able to do this for her and for all the deserving ladies, battling this wretched disease. I am also so grateful that it means so much to you… Liz. I just want to see you thrive and start feeling better!  If this gave you the tiniest bit of satisfaction and even a few moments to forget about this disease, my job is done. And… you looked stunning and rocked this shoot!

Venue: Victorian Crows Nest

Henna: Neelam’s Henna Tattoo

Makeup Artist: Makeup Your Face

 

Pam | Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer

Pam was diagnosed during a routine procedure with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. If you know how rare it is to be diagnosed at anything but stage 4 pancreatic, it’s rare. However, the cancer did progress and she is currently living NED with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Another anomaly. It’s very rare that when diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that there is much that can be done, however, she went through treatment and is currently living No Evidence Of Disease (NED). She is an amazing soul with a beautiful 12 year old son named Jordan. She is back at work and enjoying life to it’s fullest. She had never had professional hair and makeup or a photoshoot before, so she was very unsure as to what to do, but she quickly got the hang of it… I always tell my ladies the first 5-10 minutes are awkward. I show them a few images from those few minutes and they just BLOSSOM! They are in amazement that they can look so beautiful…. then out came the shoulders, the hips and the mojo! Stella got her groove! Thank GOD for that procedure that has given her this extra time. As we know Stage 4 is hard, it can change from scan to scan. All cancer is hard… there is no guarantee. Stage 0,1,2,3. It doesn’t matter… it can move and it gets smart. It’s a scary beast, especially those living the nightmare. Most of us try to forget… and as easy as that sounds, it’s very hard to do. There are daily reminders.

Ms. Pam… you rocked your photo shoot! You are a true survivor and you were absolutely stunning! Here are a few highlights from her shoot…

 

Many thanks to:

Venue: The Bottle Factory | Monroe

Hair & Makeup: Makeup Your Face | Glow Beauty & Lash

 

Meet Fredda | Stage 3 Triple Positive Breast Cancer Survivor

Fredda is a 41 year old survivor, married for 17 years and has 2 boys. She found out last year she had breast cancer during a routine mammogram. She was originally diagnosed stage 2, but after her surgery and node dissection, she was upstaged to stage 3. She has made a lot of lifestyle changes as many of us do after a life altering event like this. She is truly radiant, full of life and boy did she feel beautiful today! This shoot was so much fun!

Many thanks to the fabulous Jackie Greene (Next Level Makeup) for doing such a phenomenal job with Fredda! And many, many thanks to Dennis & Bart from Swan Manor for their hospitality and graciousness.

Please ask all your friend to like my page! The Sunshine Project

Venue: Swan Manor (Special Event Facility)  
Hair & Makeup: Next Level Makeup (Jackie Greene)

Swan Manor Website

Next Level Makeup Website

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Fredda’s priceless reaction when she saw herself for the first time…

Regarding this following photo… Fredda posted the following post, while stressing over upcoming tests and surgery…. I just felt it was so compelling and so incredible for other women who totally “get it” to see that they are not alone, it’s ok to not be ok sometimes.

Strangely enough, this photo captures exactly how I feel now, most days…. lost and alone. I have so much to say…but no one wants to hear it. I have doubts but everyone wants me to stay positive. I have fears, but others say “you can beat this”. I grieve… not only for what I’ve lost, but the loss of things yet to come. I’m human, I’m not a warrior. I’m tired in ways you can’t imagine. I want to wake up from this strange nightmare. I’m tired of feeling numb, of going through the motions. Tired of smiling, tired of saying I’m ok. Tired of watching everyone else’s life go on while mine is stuck. Tired of waiting for my next test, my next treatment, my next appointment.
So, with all of that said…..I could use some extra prayers tomorrow for some unexpected CT scans that have to be done and then my next surgery on Tuesday. My body has been thru the ringer this last year and healing isn’t easy when all of your blood counts are low.

The stunning  Swan Manor…

Beautiful Jean Paul… resident of Swan Manor, Suzette is not shown here. Mr. Jean Paul was so photogenic and I think Suzette was just not having a great day!

Fredda is currently recovering from yet another surgery – she just had a total hysterectomy to prevent hormones from being produced in an effort to prevent her cancer from returning. Can we all please send our well wishes to Fredda. Sending you much love Miss Fredda, I hope these photos will remind you just how amazing and beautiful and strong you are!

All my love!

Dawn

Anna Crollman | Empowerment Shoot

Anna is now 29 years old, a 2 year survivor from Triple Positive Breast Cancer… At 27 years old she was diagnosed… newly married and ready to start her family. A huge hiccup in her plans… but, she did not let it get her down! She’s embraced cancer, always smiling… and evoking positivity for young breast cancer survivor’s, like herself. She started her blog and Instagram following via My Cancer Chic (A wonderful resource for young ladies) On Instagram she is @mycancerchic if you’d like to follow her!

She has taken cancer on with grace, style and many tutorials – along with updates and hope for young ladies, like herself. She has had her fair share of struggles and heartache. Currently she is in medical menopause due to her Triple Positive Breast Cancer. For those of you who don’t know what that means, she is Estrogen, Progesterone and Her2 Positive, meaning all of those elements were positive in her cancer diagnosis. She has had to have chemotherapy – along with a long stint of Her2 chemotherapy treatment.

Anna is currently cancer free and living a clean lifestyle. She said during chemo she gained weight and she recently hit her pre-cancer goal! And, she looks absolutely stunning!

The Bottle Factory  in Monroe, NC hosted Anna’s empowerment shoot and it was dreamy, the light, the bokeh… all of it was absolutely perfect! We cannot thank the Bottle Factory Venue enough for allowing us to shoot there. If you haven’t looked at it for a venue for your wedding, corporate function, etc… you need to! It’s a hidden treasure in the downtown of Monroe. On a side note, I live in Monroe and I’ve opted to highlight all of the Monroe, NC venues…. this being one of them. Many thanks to Sherry Helms for allowing us this amazing opportunity!

Next Level Makeup by Jackie Greene has been kind enough to partner with myself and Makeup Your Face by Katie O’Neil and they alternate months doing glam sessions for our survivors… all FREE of charge. All of this is free to our survivors, so that is just a side note. Anyway, Jackie did Anna’s makeup on location for Anna! Amazing job! I can’t thank you enough!

Anna’s following has brought lots of exposure to The Sunshine Project both on Instagram (@dawn_gaddy) and on Facebook @sunshineprojectt – I’ve had at least five ladies reach out wanting to be a part of this. I feel so honored that they’d want to be a part! So many thanks to Anna for the exposure! I work full time in addition to doing this, so ladies bare with me… we are currently booked through October. I can only take on a couple per month so I don’t overwhelm myself and wear myself down. I’m also a stage 3 survivor… so health always has to come first!

Anna’s photos turned out amazing! I’ve acquired some new gear… and so I’ll try to keep improving over time! I wanted to first show you a photo of Anna, a personal photo taken by her during one of her treatments…. She was a stunner, even bald. She embraced it… and rocked her bald head!

 

Now onto her photos…. they turned out absolutely stunning!

Anna I can’t thank you enough for  making the drive from Apex to our little downtown of Monroe, NC… It was truly an honor to do this for you and empower you and make you feel beautiful. I also appreciate you stepping in on such last minute notice, filling in for our fellow survivor Brigette McLemore who just lost her fight to this awful disease. I had asked Brigette to be a part less than one month ago and she rapidly declined and could not participate. She died two days after what should have been her Empowerment Shoot. I would love to ask everyone to extend prayers and comfort to the McLemore family. Brigette was 2 years younger than me… and she leaves 2 small children behind to make sense of all of this….

Again, many thanks to The Bottle Factory Venue in Monroe, NC and Jackie Greene from Next Level Makeup!

Our next survivor is Cindy Summers from Cindy’s Hope Chest… and also while I’m in Wisconsin for a much needed family vacation, I’ll be shooting with my aunt who is also a 5 year Invasive Lobular Carcinoma survivor… Stay Tuned!

 

Colleen | Stage 2 Breast Cancer Survivor

We shot at the beautiful and one of my new favorite venues: Morning Glory Farm – Nan was so gracious, I can’t thank her enough.. she said they’d be honored to host more shoots. We are so thankful for that…. and also many thanks to to Katie from Makeup Your Face for doing an amazing job on Colleen’s makeup and hair.

Colleen was diagnosed in the summer of 2014 with Stage 2 Invasive Breast Cancer (hormone receptor positive). I’d met her while at a family reunion… she was dating my husband’s cousin. At the time, I was just finished with radiation and we instantly connected and stayed in touch…. she confided in me that she’d had a mammogram and that they were worried about it and she’d felt the lumps, but had been putting it off. She honestly did not want to know…  She underwent chemo and then double mastectomy and she had a terrible time with her healing. The tissue became necrotic and she ended up having to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapies to try to breathe oxygen into the skin… ultimately, she ended up having 4 more reconstruction surgeries… She has truly struggled with becoming whole, again.

At the time, she had started a new cleaning business and was unfortunately unable to work due to the loss of strength in her upper body. In 2015 Colleen decided she was going to start real estate school, she needed to change the news and do something for herself. She just recently passed her SC Real Estate Exam and is now actively practicing as a real estate agent. So exciting for her!

In February of this year, she had her final reconstructive surgery taking fat from her tummy and creating breasts (DIEP FLAP). She is ultimately satisfied with her result and has decided to be content with her new body…

On the outside, Colleen exudes health and beauty and you wouldn’t know by looking at her from the outside all she’s gone through… she truly is stunning! However, as women… we all know that we are our own worst critics and it really can play into our self esteem. It’s so important that we have a realistic view of who we actually are… which is exactly why I wanted to create this project. I want women to feel beautiful and empowered…

Colleen’s take away from everything she’s been through… she wants all women to know: “The one mission statement that I can share with all woman is to please love yourself and all your imperfections.  Our unique features make us exactly who God meant for us to be. You never appreciate how beautiful you are until you have to remember yourself from before the scars.  Beauty comes from the heart and when the heart loves it’s a beautiful thing.  We need to learn to see through our hearts and not our eyes.”

Strength, beauty… empowered, that’s what I see! And, at the end of all this… you’ll see her business card. She is building her business in Myrtle Beach, SC… so if she receives a client or two out of this, it will be even more reason to empower her!

Colleen, I can’t tell you how beautiful you are (inside and out)! Cancer cannot take that from you….

If you need a SC realtor… feel free to give Colleen a call!

I hope you enjoyed being a part of The Sunshine Project…. and it brought you a little sunshine in your life!

The Sunshine Project – Michelle | Stage 4 Cholangiocarcinoma

Since I was been diagnosed with breast cancer I’ve talked about my Sunshine Project – empowering survivors of all types of cancer. I’ve dreamed of doing it for so long and for awhile was just unable to even focus on on it- but, after clean scans and a good report, it was time to do something else and take the focus off of me and my daily aches and pains…. I’m so proud and excited to launch this project!

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My first survivor – Michelle is someone near and dear to my heart, I met her via my boss and now dear friend at Ashley. Michelle is my boss’s sister in law – and while I’ve known the both of them – I’ve cried with them and for them… as I’ve rode the roller coaster of cancer with them. It’s true as they say “when one person in the family has cancer, everyone has cancer”… This family rallies together, fights together, cries together, empowers one another…. looks out for one another, it’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

In 2011, Michelle thought she was having a gallbladder attack which later turned out to be diagnosed as Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer). As it’s been explained to me, this is a rare cancer and at first, they didn’t know the origin of Michelle’s cancer and it took a lot of testing to determine that the mass in her liver was in fact originating from the bile duct. When I first met my boss in 2014, Michelle was NED (no evidence of disease) and her cancer was in dormancy. Later in 2015, Michelle had extreme back pain and learned that the cancer has spread to her bones. At first, she thought it was a herniated disc… but it was indeed metastatic cancer. “Sometimes” cancer is activated – they don’t know why or what causes it… but when this happens, it’s almost as if the cancer is angry and it seems to come back with vengeance. Michelle lovingly and not so lovingly refers to the lesion in her back, “Sally The Toad”… On MRI, it resembled a toad… and so Sally The Toad, it became.

This family has gone through so much…  the cancer spread to her brain, her lungs and it’s back in her liver. I’m summarizing, because honestly… there’s so much to be told in between all of these lines. This family watches this woman endure chemo that sickens her so badly, has made her body swell from the treatments and steroids.. to the point she couldn’t have treatment because she gets so sick. And, as of late… they are truly grasping to give her answers as to what’s left in the way of treatments for her. She has done trials and the trials won’t accept her cancer anymore. Michelle has active end stage 4 cancer. When they told Michelle this, she told them…. to blast the tumor with chemo in hopes it will shrink enough they can radiate it. She is willing to do whatever it takes…. and then some to fight against this disease. She is not just a survivor, she is a Warrior.

Michelle truly looked radiant in the photos we took – she had one day to feel truly beautiful and to forget about cancer …. only to start chemo again the very next day. Her family struggles with the possibility of the outcome – because it is truly the fear of the unknown at this point. Michelle is a fighter… she was told 6 years ago, she had months to live and here she is 6 years later, still combating against this raging disease inside her body. She is a nurse practitioner and she is educated in every aspect of her cancer and battles with these doctors and when they give her bad news, she gives them a rebuttal. She isn’t going to take cancer, lying down. She will fight until her body can’t fight any longer and quite honestly, I believe she will overcome this, she is just a feisty, strong and amazing woman!

As I said before, Michelle has a career as a Nurse Practitioner at the VA hospital in Salisbury. Additionally, she is a wife of over 20 years… a mother of two beautiful kids who you will see in the photos… she is a sister, an aunt, a daughter, a friend…. and a support system to many other cholangiocarcinoma survivors. She has become a voice in their community…

Onto the photos….

I’d love to give credit to the beautiful venue: The Victorian Crow’s Nest

Hair and Makeup: Makeup Your Face

In the midst of feeling so beautiful, came the tears…. and overwhelming rush of emotions….

  Beautiful black and whites…. 

Her family totally unscripted or prompted snuck in to see what we were doing and we captured these shots…

The love that she and her husband, Darren have is truly apparent! The way they look at each other is truly beautiful…. you can see love, but you can also see sadness, concern and also, hope…

Then of course, her reasons to fight with fury…. Alex and Tori. These children  have had a lot on their plate over these past few years… and it was truly amazing to see the love they have for their Mom!

This is Michelle’s Mom Faye – who is also a two time breast cancer survivor…

Here are a few more photos of Michelle and Darren…

In the photo below, I could’ve removed the sun flare at the bottom, but…. I felt it added beauty to this photo….

Here are some pictures of the family having fun together!! I love the photo of them with their arms in the air… I feel like it represents their strength and unity!

It was truly an honor to be a part of such a beautiful day! I enjoyed every moment of it! I know it brought some sunshine to their lives, because they’ve already told me how much! Stay tuned for next week’s survivor….

 

 

Exciting! We are up and running!

Photo credit: Lunahzon Photography Venue credit: The Ivy Place

It is so exciting to have the website and blog up and running. I’ll be honest, I felt a little rusty and with several calls to GoDaddy, (who gave me phenomenal support by the way) I was able to muster through it.

On June 1, I’ll be photographing our very first survivor! Katie from Makeup Your Face will be doing her hair and makeup and Victorian Crow’s Nest will be hosting her shoot.  Our first survivor is Michelle and she is a stage 4 survivor, she’s also a Nurse Practitioner.  I’ve known of her for a couple years now and I’ve watched her battle with cholangiocarinoma with grace. Cholangiocarcinoma is a bile duct cancer and Michelle has spots on her lungs, liver, brain and bones. She has truly been a trooper and seems to constantly be facing trials and despite it she just barrels forward and takes it all head on… and still manages to smile. Her family is near and dear to my heart and it makes me so happy that I can honor Michelle in some small way.

On June 13, I’ll be photographing Colleen a Stage 2 Breast Cancer Survivor – I’ve known Colleen since right after my battle began. She managed to get through the chemo and surgery ok, but it was her reconstruction that really gave her a run for her money. She has been through countless surgeries, some within days apart. Katie from Make Up Your Face is also doing the hair and makeup for Colleen’s shoot and Morning Glory Farm will be hosting her shoot.

In July, I’ll be shooting Cindy from Cindy’s Hope Chest. Cindy has been a shining light throughout my battle. She has helped me countless times with therapies, house cleanings, lawn maintenance and mostly just emotional support. Jackie Greene from Next Level Makeup will be doing Cindy’s hair and makeup and I’m still working on a venue for her shoot, as soon as I have a date, I’ll be on that.

In August, I’ll be shooting Pam – a stage 4 pancreatic cancer survivor. Pam has been battling for awhile and despite her recent therapy, she is back at work. She is a kind soul with a young son… and she deserves this opportunity! Jackie Greene from Next Level Makeup will be doing Cindy’s hair and makeup and I’m still working on a venue for this shoot as well.

I hope you are as excited about this as I am! Using my talent to be able to give back to these ladies, is just so incredibly rewarding. It truly nourishes my soul!

I can’t wait! I hope you enjoy!