Photos Powerfully Capture a Husband and Wife's Battle With Breast Cancer
"It's an ugly part of a terrible disease. We wanted to make it beautiful."
In May, Charlie Johnson, a nurse from Arkansas, married the love of her life, Kelsey Johnson, a construction coordinator. Like most couples on their wedding day, the new Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were sure to have a photographer capture all their special moments. But the following month, when Charlie was diagnosed with breast cancer, they decided to do a very different kind of photoshoot, which has since gone viral.
"Before I even knew that I was going to have to get chemo and radiation, I had the idea that I'd want to do a photoshoot of shaving my head," Charlie told Best Life.
"[I wanted] to make it beautiful, in the hopes of somebody seeing it that's having a bad day and having it empower and encourage them in some way," she added.
Charlie asked her friend, professional photographer Mandy Parks, to help make her idea a reality. "It's an ugly part of a terrible disease," Mandy told Best Life. "We wanted to shed a more positive light on it and make it beautiful."
"There are thousands of people going through this every day and I thought it would just be so cool to let them know that this is just part of the fight," Mandy added.
Needless to say, the photoshoot was a challenge for everyone involved. "I'm pretty sure I had every emotion you could imagine during that photoshoot," Charlie said. "But I took deep breaths and thought, 'This is it. This is what it's all about. Taking control over it and making it yours.'"
It wasn't easy on Charlie's husband either, but he did it for her. Both the photographer and her subjects thought it was important to capture the pain that loved ones of those battling cancer often suffer in silence.
"The pictures of Kelsey crying represented the many male caregivers that are [supporting] their wives in this terrible disease," Mandy said. "There are so many husbands out there that have to watch the people they love go through this and it's a helpless feeling. There's nothing they can do, beyond loving and caring for them."
"My husband was amazing throughout the whole thing," Charlie said, noting Kelsey was "so strong to be able to do that."
Since Mandy shared the photos on her Facebook page on August 20, they've received more than 14,000 likes along with hundreds of comments from those moved to tears by the hauntingly powerful images.
"We thought the photos would cause a little ripple, but we had no idea they'd cause a wave," Mandy said.
"That photoshoot has accomplished everything that I set out," Charlie added. "The messages that I've received from people mean the world to me."
And for another incredible story behind stunning viral photos, check out These Wedding Photos of a Tribute to the Groom's Late Sister Are Truly Miraculous.
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