From Breast Cancer Diagnosis to Thriving in Bikini Competitions | Blythewood, SC

The second recipient of my Breast Cancer Survivor Giveaway also has a great story. Meet Irene Scott who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2014. She made her discovery while administering a self-exam. Irene resides in the Charlotte, NC area and drove down for her session. We met in Blythewood at Doko Meadows Park. She was so great to work with and had a lovely personality that you can see in her smile. I enjoyed getting to know her during her portrait session.

After being diagnosed with DCIS stage 1 breast cancer and having multiple surgeries Irene initially struggled with the disease. A one-time control freak is now dealing with something with she couldn’t control. “I was that mom that had everything in order and had everything in its place. I was a very neat, clean and highly organized person.“ said Irene. Since then she has began to enjoy the simplest of things such as having a morning cup of coffee and watering her plants.


 Photo by: Henry Jones Photography (www.henryjonesphotography.com

I am determined to not only live but enjoy my best life.

Treatment & chasing dreams

During her treatments Irene endured a double mastectomy and two reconstruction surgeries. She was fortunate that chemotherapy or radiation wasn’t in her treatment plan. Radiation therapy is rarely given to women treated with mastectomy for DCIS.

Eventually, she decided to have her reconstructed breast removed. “I didn’t know any better and somehow felt so attached to my non-cancerous breast,” Irene said. At the end of 2017, Irene decided to shift her focus to her health and bodybuilding. She began pursuing a lifelong dream of becoming physically fit and having 6-pack abs. Irene decided to focus her energy on her workouts. After very intense training and giving 100% effort, she continued to endure some challenges. Her challenges couldn’t hold her back, it only made her more confident in her appearance and gave her an ‘I can do anything attitude .“ 


 Photo by: Henry Jones Photography (www.henryjonesphotography.com

“I had the strength to not allow Breast Cancer to take over my life & a constant reminder that I am stronger mentally”

The meaning behind Irene’s Celtic Symbol for Strength tattoo


Transformation & Thriving

After six months of training twice a day & 7 days a week her body transformed. “I loved what I saw. I felt like a total bad girl. If I could get through cancer, 2 mastectomies, 2 breast reconstructions and numerous doctor’s appointments I could surely eat lean chicken, drink protein shakes, and drink over a gallon of water each day.” Since this physical change she felt so much stronger and healthier.

In April 2018, she competed in her first bikini fitness bodybuilding competition. She competed in several categories in the 2018 NPC Charlotte Cup. Irene’s hard work paid off and she finished in 2nd Place Masters 45 Plus category. Two months later Irene competed in the 2018 NPC Victory Classic she once again finished in 2nd Place Masters 45 Plus category.

After her first two competitions Irene kept training and eating right to get her body ready for her next competition. Almost a year since her last competition she participated in the NPC Lenda Murray Classic. This time she finished on top with first-place finishes in the Masters 45 Plus and Novice Class B categories.

However, Irene is not done yet and plans to continue to compete. Until her next competition she is continuing to keep in shape and continuing to live a grateful fulfilling lifeShe is a true example of beating cancer, surviving, thriving and living her best life.  



Irene’s Competition Results

NPC Charlotte Cup

2nd Place Masters Over 45

8th Place Class E

NPC Victory Classic

2nd Place Masters Over 45

5th Place Class C

4th Place Masters Over 40

NPC Border Klash

8th Place Masters Over 45

NPC Lenda Murray Classic

1st place Masters Over 45

1st place Novice Class B

4th place Class B

© Photo by Dan Ray


Thank you for taking time out to read my blog post. Please like the blog post, comment and share it on your social media pages with your friends. If you want me to capture your story please email me at henry@henryjonesphotography.com so we can discuss documenting your life story.

A Survivors Story: Sharon’s Success After Cancer

It is officially October which means it is Breast Cancer awareness month. Last year I kicked off my annual Breast Cancer Survivor giveaway honoring my late step-mother and I am so excited that I was able to continue it for another year. This year my first recipient is Sharon Nelson of Columbia, SC. Sharon was diagnosed in January 2010 with stage two, triple-negative breast cancer.  

In mid-September, I announced the Breast Cancer Survivor giveaway and Sharon was the first to enter. She provided such an amazing story. After a phone call with her, we decided on taking the images in Lake Carolina. The session started at the Lake Carolina Town Center and ended at the Lake Carolina Sales Center. I enjoyed getting to know more about Sharon while also capturing her personality during the session.

DISCOVERY

January 19, 2010, is a day Sharon will never forget. It was four months after the day every woman dreams of. Four months after she married the love of her life. While administering a self-check Sharon noticed a lump on her breast. She has a family history of the illness so she knew she needed to be proactive and conduct self-checks. After visiting an oncologist, it was confirmed that she indeed had breast cancer.

TREATMENT

Sharon began receiving treatments that included multiple surgeries, mastectomy, reconstruction, and chemotherapy. While receiving treatments Sharon and her husband Justin were asked by the oncologist if they planned on having children. “My answer was an emphatic NO. Justin, on the other hand, hesitated,” she said. They previously agreed they didn’t want any kids and was going to be the “cool” aunt and uncle. They planned to build their careers and travel the world. It turned out that he wanted kids. The oncologist let them know that chemotherapy shuts down the chance of having kids.

Sharon decided that she was going to fight this disease with everything she had in her. She showed up to every doctor's appointment dressed with perfection and her head held high. “I believed that God was taking me through this journey to show me something, to tell me something.” Having a support system is very important and she was loaded with support. She leaned on her husband, parents, brother, in-laws, church family, close friends, and coworkers.

HEALING, FAITH & THRIVING

In September 2010, after her first anniversary, she was cancer-free after her treatments. A joint decision was made to give the kid thing a go and see what happens. Well on January 19, 2011, one year to the date of her diagnosis, her doctor told gave her the great news that she was indeed pregnant…with twins.

 Photo by: Henry Jones Photography (www.henryjonesphotography.com

“It's one thing to CHOOSE to not have children. It’s another thing altogether to be told by a medical professional that your CHOICE has been taken. I was devastated. At that moment, my entire mindset changed. I couldn't give my husband children? One thing I know for sure and two is for certain is that I know of a God who says all things are possible. I opened my bible in the middle of the night. My fingers landed on a scripture that has now become my life's verse. Philippians 4:6. ‘Be not anxious about anything but through prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your request to God.’"

“You know, God will do the drastic to get our attention. I will celebrate 10 years of being cancer-free in 2020. This might sound crazy to say but having cancer was supposed to happen to me. I now have three children. Eight-year-old twins and a 9-month-old boy baby. I am and was supposed to be a mother. Being a cancer survivor is not the title of my book, it is, however, a pivotal chapter in my story.  I don't take being their mother lightly. They were supposed to come to this world to do great things through me. They are here to show God's love and that if you just stay faithful and believe in Him, He will deliver on His promises.”

Sharon is now thriving with Justin but with a bit of a twist. They are still the “cool” aunt and uncle. Their careers are thriving and they are traveling often. She also enjoys exposing her children to a world of opportunities inside and outside of Columbia, SC. I love the fact that she has a monthly brunch date with her best girlfriends even though they don’t live in the same state.

Sharon is pouring her all into her family, support system, career, and her philanthropy efforts. She also mentors’ young girls of Ladies First Mentoring Group. The group has partnered with local elementary schools to reach girls during this important time of development.

I would like to thank Sharon for her courage and for sharing her story with me. I can truly say when I read her submission I was blown away. I couldn’t wait to meet and work with her. She was amazing in front of my camera and had a great personality. She is a living witness that Breast Cancer can be defeated with early detection, a strong support system & your faith.

Please like the blog post, comment and share it on your social media pages with your friends. If you want me to capture your story please email me at henry@henryjonesphotography.com so we can discuss documenting your life story.

11 years cancer free! Michelle is Surviving & Thriving | Columbia, SC

After my step-mother Marilyn Sizemore-Jones lost her 25-year battle with breast cancer in July I wanted to find a way to give back and make her proud. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month I felt this is the time to do it. I reached out to Michelle Tindal of Columbia, SC. I have known for a while and asked her if she would like to share her story in exchange for a portrait session. She immediately agreed and stated she would love to share her story. We choose to have the portrait session on the campus of the University of South Carolina at the Horseshoe. We discussed her experience with dealing with breast cancer, her treatments and how she is thriving after cancer.

michelle-3.jpg

2007

The year 2007 was a year of many events that still have an impact on how things are today. Some good events that came from that year was Steve Jobs announcing that Apple was going to release the iPhone and Barack Obama announced he was running for President of the United States of America. Some of the bad that came that year was the Mortgage Crisis which caused thousands of foreclosures and who could forget that a college student went on a killing spree at Virginia Tech University which lead to the death of 33 innocent people.

For Michelle, the year 2007 also had good and bad events or her. While performing a self-breast examination she noticed a lump on her breast. After a mammogram and biopsy, it was determined she had Stage 1 Breast Cancer. It was good that she was conducting her self-exams and caught the lump at an early stage. The American Cancer Society states that finding breast cancer early and getting state-of-the-art cancer treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully.

When she received the news of the cancerous lump she was devastated and shocked. Without any prior family history of breast cancer, she couldn’t understand how this happened to her. Thankfully, she has a strong support group by her side which consist of her family and friends. They were with her through every step of the way.

TREATMENT 

Michelle had a mastectomy and underwent chemotherapy treatments for 4 months. She went for treatment every 2 weeks and had followup appointments in between her treatments. “The side effects and days after is one of the worst feelings ever. It’s tough and my heart goes out to those with long treatment plans,” she said.

Her self-esteem took a huge hit since she felt horrible and believed that she was ugly. “I didn't feel like my normal self and it took me a long time to be ok with myself and get back to loving me. It took me several years to become comfortable sharing my story. I'm glad that I gained confidence and can now share with others. I've realized that this journey not only helped me grow emotionally and spiritually but is helping me encourage others.”

HEALING, FAITH & THRIVING

“My faith got me through it all. I knew that I was going to be ok. I had my tough days, but I had family and friends that kept me encouraged. When my faith was struggling, they filled in the gap for me. My grandmother would send me cards in the mail that included scriptures for me to recite. They were always right on time. Now, my faith still keeps me going and I know that because of my faith I am capable of anything. I'm not just a survivor, I'm a conqueror. I'm victorious.”

In 2010, she met and starting dating Eric. It wasn’t easy for her to date knowing what she has been through 3 years prior. “When I tell you that was the most difficult thing I had to tell my husband! I told him while we were dating and I was so scared. I feared being judged. I wanted to be totally transparent with him about my health because there's always that risk of cancer returning. I wanted him to know that I also still dealing with the after effects of chemo and how the effects could impact our future. Plus I knew he would eventually see my surgery scars and I knew he'd have questions.” Michelle and Eric have been married since 2011.

michelle-7.jpg

“You're stronger than you think! If you're determined to make it, then you will!”

WHAT'S NEXT FOR MICHELLE?

Michelle continues to be dedicated to her health and well being by exercising faithfully. She also keeps her faith in God which is fed at The Brook in Columbia where she is a faithful servant. Attending her annual oncology visits to receive blood work and scans will ensure her well being. Michelle is cancer free and encourages women to conduct regular breast cancer exams. Early detection is a major key to beating cancer. Michelle also recommends supporting small local groups like Alala Cancer Society. Alala provides post-surgery resources such as mastectomy bras, breast prosthetics and other items that women may need during their treatment.

“We tend to take things for granted until we're faced with the risk of it being taken away. We only get one body and I want to make sure that I'm around for a long time. I don't have kids yet, but when I do have kids I want to be here for them and future generations. I want a long AND healthy life!”

I would like to thank Michelle for her courage and sharing her story with me. After living with a parent with breast cancer I saw first hand how it can be challenging. It can make you question your faith in God and make you feel isolated from everyone. I do know that keeping your faith in God and having a support group will help you get through it all.

Please like the blog post, comment and share it on your social media pages with your friends. If you want me to capture your story please email me at henry@henryjonesphotography.com so we can discuss documenting your life story.