A picture says a thousand words and hearts speak even more than that. On this day, two brave hearts, cancer survivors, came together to find healing in each others existence. Here are their stories, in their own words.
One of the things I did when I first lost my hair from chemo was to set up some beauty shoots — just for myself, to see and experience this new form of “Sharon sans hair” in a setting of love and acceptance. I hadn’t done any modeling before that, so this was all-new territory on many levels for me, since I used to “hide” behind my long hair and baggy men’s clothes. Doing those shoots changed how I felt about my wholeness and femininity, and forever transformed what was supposed to be traumatic and emotionally upsetting into something empowering and loving. It was one of the galvanizing forces that sparked the idea for my Bald Is Beautiful org, and I wanted to do more to share that transformational feeling with other women. This kind of experience can lift the heart and soul of everyone participating —not just during the cancer experience but long after that.
I’ve known Kristin for many years and have always loved how her images capture the essence of whoever she is photographing. I had the pleasure of shooting with her awhile back and those pics are among my favorites that I’ve ever done! Kristin has known about Bald Is Beautiful since we met, and she and I had always talked about collaborating on something that would bring together our shared passion for using the visual medium to hold up a loving mirror for people to see their own beauty and embrace it with a sense of fun and adventure. Unfortunately, geography and logistics for both Kristin and I proved a bit challenging over the years . . . until a few weeks ago.
When Kristin told me about Carli, I could feel that things were finally going to align! Kristin shared a bit with me about Carli and her journey with lymphoma, as well as the emotional ups and downs Carli was going through, specifically around her hair loss. Like me before chemo, Carli had long luscious locks. But unlike me, Carli is a fashion model (a very talented one!), so the stakes for her hair loss directly impacted her career. Plus, the feedback she had gotten from her reps about losing her hair was particularly callous on a human level, and short-sighted on a professional level . . . and it also made me piping mad!
At the time Kristin and I chatted, Carli seemed apprehensive about doing the shoot, so when Kristin called the very next day with a hot-off-the-presses “yes” from Carli, we set the shoot up for that Sunday! It had been a long time since I’d done any fashion modeling, so I was a lil’ bit nervous, and truth be told, I was feeling a bit shy and insecure about it, too! Doh! But this whole day was all about meeting Carli, and making her feel seen, embraced, and beautiful — and the day did not disappoint!
Carli’s infectious smile and her 20-year-old, super-easy-cool-n-breezy vibe made for a fun morning of connection and play! There is a sort of immediate intimacy and sisterhood that we cancer warriors feel when we meet each other. And that energy is palpable in the photos of the two of us. There is warmth and safety and joy! And her solo shots are simply gorgeous! Carli is a radiant, powerful young woman with elegance and grace that is engaging and captivating. And her smile is simply luminous! I hope Carli can see these qualities in herself and perhaps this shoot will also give her a heart-smile that she can associate with her cancer experience to counterbalance the many challenges she’s gone through already at such a young age.
As for my solo pics, I was happily surprised at how much I loved them! It was a perfectly timed lesson about not being so dern harsh on myself — it’s a lifelong teaching that, given the twists and turns of life, has to sometimes be relearned from new angles and new perspectives. And what a beautiful way to be reminded of our strength and beauty, and to get that love from Kristin’s warm and loving lens and from spending the morning with a young woman as inspiring and lovely as Carli! I’m so humbled and grateful to Kristen for thinking of me and putting this magical day together for us all!
That day was a perfect manifestation of the Bald Is Beautiful motto: Always smile from the inside out!
My experience shooting with Sharon Blynn was incredibly fun and inspiring. I had a great time laughing, combining ideas, and spending the day together. Before getting to the shoot I was a little nervous because, I was unsure if Sharon and I would end up having a connection or not. I was relieved after the moment I walked in because, the energy in the room was immediately settling and comfortable. The energy consisted of love, fearlessness and encouragement. Once, I arrived Sharon and I hit it off. She expressed her story in resilience and beauty. Going through cancer it’s hard to remind yourself that you are beautiful. With or with out your hair. That’s exactly the message I wanted to share with the world.
“Bald is Beautiful” is an amazing slogan to put out into the world of woman and or men that you still are beautiful going through this rough time. A lot of people do not understand that kind of experience that Sharon and I shared. Knowing that Sharon went through the pain and suffering that I had made my emotions come out in the pictures we took that day. I felt stronger and more encouraged to take on anything after meeting Sharon Blynn in person. After an experience like cancer, you feel lost and unsure of where your life path will lead to next. She found out what she wanted after this horrible experience and made it something beautiful. She is such a strong, independent individual that it made me feel like I had the answers already.
The images that were taken by Kristin Anderson made me feel alive. I have shot with Kristin a couple times since I was sixteen. We have still kept in contact since. This close relationship I have with Kristin made me feel comfortable and naturally beautiful in the photos she took of me. This industry has made it difficult to maintain an positive outlook on myself and shooting with Kristin makes me feel like I can be whatever I aspire to be. After looking at all of the pictures of Sharon and I it made my heart open up to a whole new outlook on life. The pictures expressed two, strong, independent, woman survived to tell their stories. To get that kind of image out can change a lot of perspectives of the industry, cancer, and what real beauty is.
Thank you Kristin for putting your time and energy to putting this shoot together. I had an awesome time with you and Sharon. I appreciate you introducing me to this rare and brilliant soul. It really spoke to me and meant a lot to what I am currently going through. Thank you for always giving me amazing advice and helping me when I need it. I love you!
*************************************************************************************I asked Carli & Sharon what piece of advice would they would give someone in the midst of this experience?
“Look in the mirror everyday and say to yourself, “ I am beautiful” “I am strong” and “I am willing to do anything I set my mind to.” As each day goes by you’ll start to believe it 🙂 ~ Carli Glubok
“What I would share with the warriors in the midst of the cancer experience: While you cannot control the fact that you have cancer, you can choose how you experience everything that comes into your path as you walk it. You need every cell (literally and figuratively) of your body to be about Love and Kindness, so find ways to feel joy and gratitude, even in what may be the smallest of things, and breathe into that peaceful feeling. This is not to say that you should deny feelings of anger, rage, frustration, sadness, and pain — feel everything, and then let the more “negative” feelings flow in and through and out of you, without identifying yourself or your experience with only the pain. Give yourself the same kindness, patience, nurturing, compassion, and love that you most likely give more freely to others, and allow your experience to also be defined by those feelings rooted in LOVE and JOY.
In short, try to follow the Bald Is Beautiful motto: Always smile from the inside out!”
~ Sharon Blynn
Thank you both for allowing me to be a catalyst for a new friendship. I know you both will spread your lights far and wide and will continue to lift those around you!
If you know someone who would benefit from this type of experience, please send them our way!
Stay Enchanted my friends! XO~K