In August 2016, I began photographing portraits of breast cancer survivors / fighters with their sisters. Ultimately, my goal is to publish a photography book, Sisters & Survivors, and have it be used as a fundraising tool for metastatic breast cancer research and treatment (when it spreads outside of the breast to other parts of the body). In August 2013, my own sister passed away from breast cancer that had quickly spread to her bones, at the age of 40. This project is in dedication to her and to her daughter, my niece Julia. More information below the images.
About 'Sisters Project'
A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost, but in August 2013, my older sister Renee passed away from metastatic (Stage IV) breast cancer that had spread to her bones. She was forty years old, and only diagnosed a short four months earlier. My sister and I were very different from each other but we shared a special bond. She always wanted to be a lawyer growing up, while I always wanted to be a photographer. Before she had her daughter, I remember she always had 'squared off' nails with french manicures while my nails are usually bare, and I always request 'round' when I actually get a manicure. We both laughed hysterically watching Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas every year.
It’s my regret that I didn’t spend more time with her both before and after she was diagnosed. Especially as a documentary photographer, I’ve found myself wishing I had at least one portrait of just the two of us together as adults that succeeded in capturing our different personalities, and the special connection that we shared.
Her loss was extremely stressful and painful for me, and my family. It took years for the fog to lift enough for me to feel inspired to do something creative and hopefully positive with this experience. Here is a separate website sistersproject.info I've set up where people who are dealing with breast cancer (related to sisterhood) can share their own "sister stories", regardless of where they are in the world, or whether or not they are photographed by me for the project.
About 'Sisters & Survivors', book project in the making
My goal with ‘Sisters & Survivors’ is to create portraits of breast cancer survivors / fighters with their sisters across the country, including a wide range of ages, races and socio-economic demographics. I plan to publish a book of these images along with the subjects’ stories to be used as a fundraising tool and have proceeds go toward metastatic breast cancer research.
I want to do what I can to help raise awareness and research for metastatic breast cancer, (when it spreads outside of the breast to other parts of the body). Also, many of the portrait subjects that I photograph have used their experience with breast cancer to help other people through speaking engagements, writing, and creating organizations or products that help people recovering from or living with breast cancer. It’s my hope that my images will inspire more people to create positive social change in their own ways.
Lastly, through my photography, my goal is to help influence the positive self esteem of women and girls by photographing positive body image concepts, and photographing inspiring women in a variety of ways. My sister Renee was dedicated to instilling confidence in her (now thirteen year old) daughter Julia, and in other girls in her community. I like to think that I’m doing something to continue her mission through my work.
To help make this self funded project possible, I've set up a CrowdRise fundraising page. I'm also looking for sponsors to partner with in expanding the project and exhibiting the series in hospitals and treatment centers. Learn more here.
I first began photographing sisters regardless of their association with breast cancer to explore the nature of that relationship after my sister passed away. During the process of making the following images, I saw the opportunity to reflect on a more personal approach, and narrow the subjects down to sisters who are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, or who are breast cancer survivors.
The following images are portraits I did of sisters who do not have an association with breast cancer.