On an ordinary Friday afternoon in January 2012, a gifted and intuitive radiologist, Dr. Julie Mack, told me she’d just found a mass deep within my right breast, a tumor that would later be diagnosed as Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. Like so many other women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt my world collapse around me.
Somehow amidst the numbness and confusion of the week between that discovery and a partial mastectomy, I realized that I would want to remember how I had looked before surgery. A friend suggested photographs by a professional photographer, and that’s when I met Wendy Palmer. Our unscripted, unposed photo shoot resulted in hundreds of photographs that were far more than mere documentary; they were pieces of art in their own right—masterful in line and composition, alive with color and light, thanks to Wendy’s talent and vision. Surprised by the range and nuance of emotion conveyed in the photos, Wendy and I decided to document the subsequent stages of my journey through treatment and recovery.
Three surgeries, four rounds of chemotherapy and a couple of cosmetic procedures later, my prognosis is good. “They caught it early,” as we say: a gift indeed. Going through the various phases of diagnosis, decisions and treatments, one thing became increasingly clear to me: I would do whatever I could, professionally and personally, to help other women have a sense of what to expect—and to encourage them—on their own journeys with breast disease. This project is a major part of the commitment I have made.
Each of the photographs you find here is paired with an imagist poem, my reflection on the visual image itself and what I was experiencing when it was created.
During our initial photo shoot, all thought evaporated and the process was instinctive—for Kimberly and for me. It was the first time we met, but somehow we were catapulted into a swirl of movement and dance, poignant with the knowledge of Kimberly’s upcoming surgery. We were locked in the moment of light and shadow, embracing and letting go. Three hours evaporated.
Photography is a means of telling a story through image, and so it happened with these.
Photos that were originally meant only to remind one woman of her story propelled us onward to further photographic sessions and much discussion about what it means to live. Our hope is that these images and words will empower women facing a similar situation to see edges of light along the way.
This series of 30 large (20x30) photographs was created over a 24-month period. During multiple, unposed photo shoots, professional photographer Wendy Palmer captures a wide range of emotions as played out in the face and body of subject Kimberly Myers. Kimberly offers pithy verbal complements to each photograph, illuminating subtleties of thought and feeling in the manner of imagist poetry-by isolating a single image to reveal its essence.
Edges of Light: Images of Breast Transformation continues to tour throughout the U.S. in professional galleries, universities and healthcare institutions.
To read a review by Dr. Jennifer Henneman in the Journal of the American Medical Association: JAMA. 2018;319(6):532-534. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.21752
For more information, please contact Wendy Palmer directly.
Wendy Palmer Photography | wendypalmerphoto.com | firstname.lastname@example.org |