To share the story behind the picture I entered in the "Breast Investigator's" Contest. This is an excerpt from the project (solo book) I am currently writing, which is the story of my journey through two stage 4 cancers in my 30's.
“Light Shining Down On Her." – Angie Suttles (copyright 1/1/2011)
Excerpt from book
My son, Caleb, took this picture the first time I lost my hair in 2004…he had already seen me battle the first cancer in 1998 at the tender age of five years old but the Vulva cancer was not treatable with chemotherapy so when the treatment from the second cancer (breast) in 2003 took my hair, I made the decision that I would offer him my head as a blank canvas to express his feelings towards the events he was now witnessing his mother face. He started out with a simple painting of eyes on the back of my head, joking that he wanted to tell his friends that his mother really did have eyes in the back of her head. Then he asked to photograph me on one of the worst days of my entire life. It was a day that I would challenge God to take me to heaven and end the suffering or grant me one of those TV preacher promises of a 'suddenly' and heal me instantly. My body was racked with greater pain than I knew was even possible. I could hardly lift my head but knew this moment, I could not afford to miss. It was a moment that was an unction from the Holy Spirit, Himself, proclaiming to me that God would use my son to unfold a truth on my behalf if I would dare to allow Him the opportunity. I thought it to be much less than it would become. I lessened it with my human reactions and responses. I imagined it as a tool that would bring my son to more familiarity with the current situation for an end results being that of comfort and less fear. I understand now it would be the chance for me to see myself, Caleb's mom, through his faith-filled eyes, that childlike faith that we as adults have forgotten. I wanted to name the picture, "Being For Real" but he was more than adamant to name the picture, "Light Shining Down On Her." To see myself through the eyes of my ten year old as I was in such a place of despair was a true gift from God. My son saw light shining through the window piercing the top of my hairless head and he interpreted it as hope and courage, strength and the Glory of God. I wanted to expose the pain of a human being's life as they battle cancer but he wanted to reveal the "Giver of Life."
The Beneficiary of the $250 photo contest award is “Voices of Survivors Foundation,” a foundation devoted to exploring what ‘Survivorship’ means to the individual ‘Survivor’, whether they are recently diagnosed, in-treatment or post-treatment, in a variety of documentary formats. Each ‘Survivor’ helps define what this means to not only themselves, but also gives insight to others who are on this journey as well, either as a ‘Survivor’ or a ‘Co-Survivor’.
The face of cancer is one that has been portrayed as that of only older people or children for so long, but that face is not reflective of whom cancer truly affects. It affects us all! We become a ‘Survivor’ when we first hear those three words: “You have cancer.” At that moment, your ‘Survivorship’ begins and you are not alone. Each and every ‘voice’ shared can mean so much to so many and touch even more. Stand up, be heard!
Lynn Lane, VOSF Founder/Director
How I Fight Back:
I engaged myself during my time of testing by serving as The Relay for Life’s Entertainment Chair, a Committee Member for the 2008 Cancer Survivor Alliance Conference Committee in Columbia, by raising funds, and by volunteering with various other organizations in the community. I became a cancer advocate with The Lance Armstrong Foundation in 2007 when I was chosen by the foundation to travel with Lance Armstrong and 199 of my constituents from around the country to Washington, DC to ask Congress to make cancer a national priority. In 2008, the foundation asked me to lead a local Livestrong grassroots effort, and I formed Livestrong Upstate SC. I also served as a Track Leader for the foundation at the Livestrong Summit in Columbus, Ohio in 2008. Livestrong Upstate SC has held Livestrong Day events annually throughout the Upstate for “Livestrong Day” and served various cancer organizations with fundraising and community events. Under the Livestrong Upstate name, I birthed the Upstate’s first cancer survivor dragon boat support group that now benefits The Anderson Cancer Association, Anderson, SC.
Birth a Voices of Survivors Foundation here in the Upstate of SC.
Continue Livestrong Upstate SC grassroots’ efforts here in the Upstate of SC.
Continue the BelowTheBelt cancer fight. (Such as Vulva)
Continue advocacy with The Lance Armstrong Foundation, I(2)Y: I’m Too Young For This Foundation, C4YW: Conference 4 Young Women with breast cancer, Planet Ca
ncer, and the NBCC: National Breast Cancer Coalition.
Continue my work within the dragon boat community which raises funds for cancer fighters.
You can also follow Angie at her Blog angiesuttlesblog.blogspot.com