September 20, 2015, Less than One Week after Release from Hospital
The second photo shoot took place less than a week after her double mastectomy, for which they also removed fat from her abdomen to help reshape her breasts. At her house, still strung with decorations from her welcome-home party, Beth was caught up in the mental and emotional process of her recovery. She wanted to show an unfiltered documentation of her state. We explored and captured the wide range of emotions she was experiencing.
“I had the surgery on September 15th and was home on the 19th. Dave came to my house the following day. I was in a daze. I had drainage tubes coming out of me. I was still on morphine, and everything was in slow motion. My movements were slow, my pain was dull, my mind was relaxed. I was thankful that I made it out alive and was in good spirits.
“For the photos, I was topless, surgical drains dangling. My husband and daughter were upstairs, listening to the camera clicking for at least an hour. I wasn’t as limber or full of life and expression as I was a week earlier. There was no hair flipping or fairy twirls this time—just the simplest of photos of me masked in medication. I started out in in my nightgown, but it wasn’t long before I disrobed, unabashedly. I wondered if having already done the first nude photo shoot had removed a thick layer of modesty. By the second session, I had no problem baring my scars or my breasts.
“I was still struggling with my decision [to have the reconstructive fat transfer]. I wondered how liberating it might be to have a flat, skinny chest. I prayed that the swelling would go down, down, down, and considered a breast reduction to take away the metaphorical burden.
“But I didn’t want the photos to be about my breasts. I wanted them to capture my heart and my strength, as well as my fear. Out of adversity, there is great beauty. Great hope. Great strength. Photography had captured the cancer, in all its ugliness and sneakiness, and exposed it to the light. I wanted these images to help support others affected by it.”
Click below the text to view images from the second day of shooting.