When the desire to have a baby takes root in your heart, it’s hard to view life through any other lens than yourself as a mother. Bridget and Tim were ready to welcome a baby to their family, but as friend after friend welcomed their tiny new additions, it just wasn’t happening for them. This takes a toll on a marriage, one that only couples who walk thru infertility can truly know.
Bridget decided to seek fertility help and started with a physical, expecting to learn the reasons for her inability to get pregnant. Little did she expect to sit across from a doctor and be told she had breast cancer that would require immediate treatment.
Hearing this news changes the course of your life dramatically. Life gets fuzzy, fast. It begins to feel like a Lifetime movie playing out someone else’s bad news. You find yourself wishing to switch the TV to off to resume your own blase status quo.
Where do you draw the strength to step up and face each moment, each appointment and each surgery with no guarantees that your happy ending is just around the corner? This is where faith must take hold of every fear that begins to encroach. This is where Bridget’s faith in the Lord has been indispensable. This is where she and Tim began to share that faith and unite to find their strength. They began a journey to seek the Lord in their weakness and found He is faithful to meet their daily needs.
They stepped into the rink to begin their cancer journey, attempting to silence the fears they felt crowding in. Bridget’s initial biopsy revealed little cause for concern as the lump had only a 3% chance of being cancerous. That seemingly non-threatening lump would eventually require a total of 7 biopsy procedures in an attempt to avoid surgery, which then ended up being necessary anyway.
Bridget was diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer and lumpectomy surgery and node removal was scheduled immediately. All 4 lymph nodes were removed and tested negative for cancer, but during that surgery another tumor was found.
A second surgery was scheduled immediately. At this second surgery they found cancer. The next course of action would involve radiation. By the time the doctors were done with this initial phase of Bridget’s treatment, 3 surgeries were required to remove the cancer in her breasts.
At this point, there was no tissue left to take from her breasts that bear the beautiful scars of a woman living in the midst of a battle. Radiation would be her best option to reign in the cancer that continued to reveal itself layer after layer.
After her surgeries, Bridget continued with fertility treatments, hoping to put this cancer scare behind her and move forward with her life. However, during her third in vetro fertilization another lump was discovered in her breast.
She was subjected to another biopsy in the mist of embryonic transfers. At this point the doctors knew a double mastectomy would be unavoidable.
Today Bridget is on the preventative medication (tamoxifen) which she will take for 10 years to help prevent the incidence of her invasive cancer spreading through her body. Unfortunately though, fertility treatments are out of the question while she is on these meds because they act to mimic menopause. This was necessary because her tumors are fueled by her hormones.
Bridget’s wanted to tell her story through Unveil your Cinderella portraiture because she knows she is not alone, however, so often young women feel alone when they walk through a diagnosis like this. Cancer feels like a disease of older men and women. It's spoken of in hushed tones. Bridget is a woman living with breast cancer and there are so many more just like her, invisible. She is the face of breast cancer in our community.
Bridget is a fighter and is bringing everything she has to this fight, as is obvious by her above outfit choice for her portraits. She desires for her story to be an encouragement to other women walking through their own cancer journey. She wansts to encourage women who are walking through their own storm to know there is help. Cancer treatment takes a toll on a person, especially a woman. Its battle wounds are so very evident. These portraits helped Bridget see her own beauty in the scars of the battle she is fighting.
Bridget sees God’s hand of provision in surrounding her with an incredible network of support during her cancer journey. She grins at the uncanny timing of how some of this has unfolded in her life. Just a few months prior to her diagnosis she began a position as a radiation therapist at Mercy Hospital…treating cancer patients. Of all the places she should be working at the time of her diagnosis!
Bridget’s marriage, which had been down a dark rocky road, prior to her diagnosis, has seen a rebirth stronger and on a more solid base than ever before. The focus shifted away from all the hurt and wrong, to all that had become right between she and Tim. She is able to focus on who Tim has become to her in the midst of this journey---her rock, the love of her life and the spiritual leader in their home.
Bridget has seen financial provision as well. She has been one of many recipients of the Stacey Davis Breast Cancer Fund, on two different occasions. First while she was going through treatment and then for reconstruction after her mastectomy.
The Stacey Davis Breast Cancer Fund was started by one of Bridget’s dear friends, Dawn DeMario. Dawn started the fund 10 years ago, after her friend Stacey Davis, a young wife and mother in our community, lost her battle to breast cancer. Little did Dawn ever think when starting the foundation that one of her best friends would be a recipient 10 years in the future.
The Fund was created initially to help get quality wigs for women losing their hair during their treatment. It has since grown to help women in our community as they walk through breast cancer and have a multitude of needs beyond wigs. It is important to Bridget that we make women aware of the fund to help local women navigate their illness. It helps to offset the costs of cancer treatment and provide assistance for things like car rides, babysitting, wigs, etc.
The Fund generates its money primarily through an annual party that is an absolute blast, called the Hair Ball. It’s held every fall at Martin’s in Westminster. This year it will be Oct 11th. Local businesses donate to the silent auction that funnels all that money directly back to the Stacey Davis Breast Cancer Fund. This year one of Bridget’s portraits will be the face of the Hair Ball. Tickets to the Hair Ball are available at the Spa at Roops Mill in Westminster.
Bridget’s small group from LifePoint Church has also been a place where she can be pointed to how God wants to work in and through her diagnosis to mold her more into His image. This is a small group of couples that will cheer each other on through the triumphs of life, breathe life into weary souls when life is exhausting, and weep with one another through shared sorrows.
Today Bridget is working at a new position in the soon to be open Carroll Regional Cancer Center. Talk about a caregiver who knows the road her patients are walking down! She is ecstatic to be working there. The facility is gorgeous and equipped with state of the art technology for treating cancer patients. We are excited to see how local families will be able to concentrate their treatment regimens right within our community. Dealing with cancer is exhausting enough, without having to drive far away for care.
Throughout my time with Bridget I was struck by her constant smile and ability to laugh at the days right before her and those ahead of her. She literally radiates a joy that makes her beautiful. She was unabashed in her celebration of our time together to record and capture her in ways that raise up her scars as a testament to the work that the Lord is doing in her life.
Aside from her joy filled approach to life, I saw a woman who was eager to have her story be one that encouraged other women to GLAM: glorious living after a mastectomy. Seeing Bridget radiate joy in portraits that focused on the beauty in the scars…words fail to express the depth of the beauty here…
Bridget and I had met for a pre-consult prior to her shoot, for her to share her story and us to cast a creative vision together. As we walked the studio grounds we ended in the bamboo, noticing how contorted some pieces got in reaching for the sun. Similarly to our lives, we make a plan and expect life to proceed in that straight path. Often God has greater plans that involve growing us in our character, our compassion, our kindness our empathy, our patience.…and if we reach for Him He is faithful to be found in the hard right turns off the predictable path we would have chosen for ourselves.
While working on Bridget’s portraits and blog I found myself playing Laura Story’s, “Blessings” over and over again. Sometimes a song just cracks your heart wide open and allows the Lord to whisper truth in that is often drown out in the bustle of our busy days. I can’t even begin to count how many times I replayed this! My cheeks were wet with tears on more than one occasion as the Lord showed me how He raises up beauty in the midst of brokenness; how He tenderly takes the raw scars and heals them to a thing of absolute beauty in His eyes. Click here for "Blessings" "Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops, what if Your healing comes thru tears, what if 1000 sleepless nights is what it takes to know You're near...the pain reminds the heart that this is not, this is not our home..." I've learned after the fact how important this song was to Bridget when she finished her treatment so how appropriate that God would impress it on my heart while telling her story.
Thank you for sharing your story Bridget and I pray it will be an encouragement to women all over!
"Let the ruins come to life, in the beauty of Your name. Rising up from the ashes, God forever You reign. And my soul will find refuge in the shadow of your wings, I will love You forever and forever I'll sing." Hillsong, "Glorious Ruins"