Something happened to me almost by accident that I now think is a great idea for someone just diagnosed with cancer. Taking time and energy to love and pamper yourself with a beautiful photo shoot if that inspires and empowers you.

The time that transpired from the date I got the breast cancer diagnosis to when I started chemo treatments ended up being about one month. It was a whirlwind of events including a chemo class, two tests (MUGA & PET scans), researching cancer and treatments, and wrapping my brain around the whole thing. And getting prayer as often as possible. Amazingly, a photo shoot popped right into my schedule during that month, just before my first chemo treatment. And I feel so blessed and empowered by it.

A few months prior to my diagnosis, I got inspired by flower crowns, mainly from a blog that I began to read, (I love this gal, and am super inspired by what she writes about girl power, self love and writing.) She suggested making and wearing flower crowns to get out of the dumps (only one of many ideas and suggestions) and I thought it was a great idea. After reading about this, I kept ‘seeing’ myself in a crown of red roses, so I went to Michael’s and got the supplies to make one.


Then, I happened to reconnect with my high school BFF just before the cancer diagnosis. I was expecting the tumor to be benign and I wasn’t expecting our reconnection to revolve around breast cancer. But it turns out she had several close experiences with breast cancer, and was able to encourage me as well as provide information. Plus, she is one of those natural born fighter type people, like my mother and youngest daughter. But not so much me, so it was nice to have my loyal protector with me again. Also she is a photographer.

I mentioned to her I’d like to have a photo shoot before I lost my hair. And she immediately agreed! I love you, BFF!

In my mind, I kept calling this photo shoot my ‘Cancer Survivor Photo Shoot’ because I already saw and considered myself a cancer survivor. And I also thought of silly names like ‘Commemorating The Loss of My Hair Photo Shoot’. But it has turned out to be my Beautiful and Inspirational Pre-Chemo Photo Shoot. I look at the pictures and they inspire me and give me hope of my healing and recovery.

I lost weight from the chemo. Today as I write this, I am 103 pounds. Being able to see beautiful photos of me at 120 pounds, looking healthy and happy is very encouraging.


Just a month before the cancer diagnosis I took up dancing with silk flags. I do this in worship of God, but it turns out to be really good exercise! I am so glad I started exercising again before the chemo treatments started. It gives me an actionable goal to reach for after each treatment, to keep dancing.

The first chemo medication I received would leave my muscles almost in a state of atrophy and feeling very weak and rubbery. So after I would get back on my feet again after each treatment, each day I would walk or dance a bit to try to get back where I was before the treatment. And again, to have these pictures of myself dancing to look at, having fun and looking strong and healthy has been very encouraging for me.

I intend to get through these chemo treatments, I intend to overcome this cancer, I intend to be healthy and strong again.

And I believe these photos are helping me get there.

I am in the planning stages of dream and vision boards for myself, and I will put a few of these pictures of myself, looking healthy and strong, right smack in the middle of one, to be able to look at everyday. That way I will see daily the place I intend to end up at, a healthy and happy me.


I was lucky to have a great photographer, but if you don’t have one, don’t let that stop you – a friend and a cell phone can take really good pictures!

  • Try to have 2 or 3 different outfits, preferably ones that make you feel amazingly beautiful
  • Try to go somewhere that can make a beautiful or unique background, especially someplace that makes you feel happy and joyful
  • Have some photos of yourself doing something athletic or kick ass, something that makes you feel strong and free
  • Make sure to get shots of yourself being and looking happy
  • Try something new and different (or wild and crazy) if you feel like it, if it makes you happy and brings you joy
  • If you cannot get a photo shoot before your hair falls out, get an awesome wig and take pictures on a day when you feel well
  • If you absolutely cannot get a photo shoot, find your favorite pictures of yourself from the past
  • Print out and enlarge your favorites and put them where you can see them often
  • Look at them and smile and look forward to the end of your chemo treatment and your future health as often as possible

May you be filled with powerful hope and great joy about your recovery,


The beautiful watercolor floral images in my pinnable pic are all free and and made by Anna from The Smell of Roses.   Thank you Anna!

Author: Erica

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