More Than Our Scars
Earlier this year, Michael Rosenberg Photography partnered with Susan G Komen Puget Sound to create the portrait series, More Than Our Scars, which aimed to redefine breast cancer and its survivors. During this portrait series we met eleven incredible women and heard parts of their stories through interview. Read along and learn about these strong, beautiful women and their journey thus far.
We will be releasing a new story every Sunday with images from their sessions and behind the scenes images. Also, we will be releasing more behind the scenes videos as we complete them. So keep an eye out on our facebook and instagram pages for more!
Interview with Juliet Disparte
Why did you join this portrait project, More Than Our Scars, with Michael Rosenberg Photography?
I said yes to participating in the portrait project because it sounded like fun! And I really believe in the work that Susan G. Komen is doing and I wanted to be part of it. Also, I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 27. It’s unusual for younger women to get breast cancer (although they do), and I wanted to show people that breast cancer has no age.
What message do you have for those newly diagnosed with breast cancer?
The message I’d like to convey is mostly not to give up hope. So many women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. You can get through it. It’s hard but you can get better.
Who would you say was your biggest support through all of this? Were there any surprises, people you weren’t expecting to help or?
I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve had a lot of support from my family as I’ve been going through all the changes related to having breast cancer. My mom went with me to every single appointment. As a nurse, she’s been really good at helping navigate through all the medical things that happen. And there’s a lot!
My older sister is a nurse too and she’d come over after every one of my surgeries. She brought funny movies to watch or cookies. I had so much support from my family and they were with me every step of the way. I honestly couldn’t have made it through without their help and support. It was very difficult time for a while. It meant a lot to have people around me who loved me and wanted to take care of me.
“I was diagnosed when I was 27 years old.”
I was really lucky that all of my doctors were supportive. They all gave me the benefit of the doubt when I told them I thought something was wrong. That kind of care and attention is what I think really saved my life. And I know that for young women like me, that’s not often the case. They might come to their doctor with a concern and the doctor will be dismissive. They’ll say “Well, you’re only 27. It’s nothing to be worried about.” And they’ll send them on their way.
So, for younger women especially it’s very important to have a relationship with a doctor you can trust. You have to be an advocate for your own health. For me, that was the most important thing. I was lucky that my doctors that didn’t make me have to be an advocate for myself so much. They were advocating for me.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your journey?
Also, the other thing that I learned and really helped get me through it is that you never know how strong you can be until you have no other option than being strong. I remember when I first got sick I kept thinking, is there some way I can get out of this? I wished I could push it to somebody else. As terrible as that sounds. But, the truth is you never know how much inner strength you have until it’s tested. Now that I’ve come through all that, I know what I’m capable of, and that’s a really amazing thing.
It’s been almost exactly six years since I was first diagnosed. It’s funny, you know, because obviously I’ve been supported while still actively going through all this. It’s obviously very stressful and emotional, and depressing and all that. I lost 20 pounds in three weeks because I was just so stressed, couldn’t eat or sleep.
When did that change?
Over time. Once you’re kind of in the maintenance part of it, you can kind of forget it ever happened to you. You go back to the doctor and it almost feels like it’s something that happened to somebody else. Now it’s been six years since I was diagnosed and I’ve been cancer free that entire time. But it comes back in strange moments.
For the most part, I live my life as if I’ve completely forgotten this ever happened to me. But then somebody asks me a question and it all comes rushing back. Oh my gosh, how did I even get through that? Sometimes I’m amazed. I’ll get a little memory of something I had to do medically speaking, and it sounds so impressive and I how did I even do that? I don’t even know. Usually I’m fine but talking about it makes it come back, like wow this is a thing that is real. That’s where I’m at right now.
Why do you support Komen Puget Sound?
I’m very happy to be part of this project, anything to help. I support Komen Puget Sound because I see firsthand the work they’re doing in our community to make women’s and men’s lives better. To give them a better chance of a positive outcome when they’re facing a breast cancer diagnosis. The money that they give to underserved women and to programs that really need the financial assistance is invaluable. I really believe in the work they’re doing to make women’s lives better and make their journeys easier and end breast cancer for good.
Last Question, how did you feel about your session today for the More Than Our Scars project with Michael Rosenberg Photography?
Before coming in to my portrait session with Michael Rosenberg Photography, I was really excited but also a little bit nervous. I thought it might be a little bit awkward. And at first I did feel a little bit awkward when he was taking the photographs, but Michael made me feel so comfortable! I was really having fun in the end!
I’m not used to having all the attention be on me. So it took a little time to get more comfortable in front the camera, but this is an experience I‘ve never had before. I’m so excited to be able have these pictures of me that look amazing and with my hair and makeup done, feeling like a model! Really, truly excited to see how they turn out, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of the project.
Hair and Makeup by Rachel Jordan
Learn more about Michael Rosenberg Photography and our projects by exploring our website! We are a fine art portrait studio focusing on family portraits, senior portraits, and more. Meet the stylists who were a big part of More Than Our Scars and another of our projects, Our Generation, by clicking here.
Reach out to us with any of your questions or comments, we’re always happy to hear from you!