Even though October--breast cancer awareness month--has passed, I wanted to get this post up since it's already been a long time coming.

Last year, my dear friend and neighbor told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and would be undergoing a mastectomy with aesthetic flat closure, followed by radiation therapy. She was worried about telling me since, as I have talked about on here many times, my mom died of breast cancer a few years ago. I assured her that it was not triggering for me to hear, and that I wanted to support her in any way I could. Our daughters are best friends, so we would happily taken on extra parenting responsibilities, take care of their animals while she was in the hospital—whatever she needed.

Thankfully, she has a fantastic support network and family that could help out, so my role in her cancer journey ended up being one of art, more than practical support.

Before she underwent surgery, Sara wanted to have a “goodbye to my breasts” gathering. Something empowering, something celebratory, to thank her body for the 50 years it gave her without any serious illnesses. And she asked if I would not only attend, but document it.

Of course, I said yes.

The goal was always that, once her incisions were healed, we would do a second session to celebrate her new body. Of course in Maine, by that time it was far too cold and snowy to do any sort of topless photoshoot, and once summer rolled around, she was busy preparing for the Runway for Hope event she was participating in with a beautiful hummingbird costume made by our mutual friend Abrianna of Wool Delight. So then I wanted to get pictures of her in her costume…and then, and then, and then.

But I love these images, and want to share some of them, and some of Sara’s story.

Being a photographer is a huge privilege. For most people, having their picture taken already feels vulnerable, yet people trust us to give them guidance and make them feel comfortable while in that state of vulnerability. Then you add once in a lifetime moments like proposals, weddings, and children’s milestones, where we are not only trusted with vulnerability, but of capturing a moment that cannot be restaged.

And then, there are the moments like this, with Sara. This session-if you can even call it that- was vulnerable, intimate, and emotional. All of us who were present cried. Being trusted with this moment for her is why I do the job that I do. For the art, but also for the privilege of freezing those moments that someone will never again experience, but will always want to remember.

Thank you Sara, for being such a wonderful friend, and I am so grateful you are on the other side of this journey.