In honor of breast cancer awareness month, Rebecca of Rebecca Sigala Portraiture had the privilege of photographing this beautiful woman and sharing her story with the world. Her life journey begins with the sickness and loss of her dear mother. While she carries her pain, she brings forth so much light and inspiration to us all. Here are her own words about her experiences and why she wanted to honor her mother, herself and femininity as a whole by doing a boudoir session:
She told me it was cancer. Stage 4. The worst kind, virtually impossible to cure. But I had no way of knowing that then. I was only 16. How? Why? When? Millions of questions rushed through my mind as fast as lightning. I was terrified.
My person, my hero, my best friend, my mom had just been diagnosed with a deadly illness. A time stamp was put on her life. It wasn't up to the appropriate life-cycle that had been drilled into my head from a little kid. A baby is born, becomes a toddler, starts walking, talking, eating and smiling. Then the toddler becomes a small child, plays and goes to school. The child then becomes an adolescent and then an adult. The adult goes to college, studies, works, has many friends and so on. The adult gets married and has babies of their own and then his own children go through the same process. The adult becomes an old man and then eventually dies. And that, children, is the circle of life. This notion of a full and rich life had been ingrained within me. I felt lied to. My mom wouldn't be a part of this circle, her life would be cut short, mid-way.
My whole entire world as I knew it was going to change. I became the mother to my mom and sister. I became an adult overnight. I learned how to dress a wound, drive to treatments, do the shopping and household chores.
But you see, here's the thing. Through all of this my mom was a light, a ray of sunshine. She could make anyone laugh. She could light up a room with her contagious smile. She had a very hard life. She faced many struggles and challenges. Yet, despite all of this she always, and I mean always, smiled. Even in the wake of complete trauma, she was positive. We never truly knew how sick she actually was because she never ever complained. She would always say:"Everything is going to be ok." Now, six years later I see that she was indeed correct. Everything is ok. Not amazing, not wonderful, but OK. This is probably one of the greatest lessons I was able to learn.
There is a school of thought that believes that the spirits come back in birds and butterflies. I usually don’t believe in those kinds of things, but when I got married 6 months ago, guests at my wedding told me that butterflies were circling around the top of the chuppah. Whatever you choose to believe, I know she is here. I know she is with me.
Even though she is no longer alive, she still teaches me life lessons every day. I have learned so much since her death and I feel like I have become a stronger person, a stronger woman because of what I have gone through at such a young age. I have experienced a great loss. I still have an empty, concrete and cold hole close to my heart. Nothing can ever come close to filling that hole, but I have learned to deal with the pain. I have learned to accept that which is gone and continue to model my life on my mother's legacy.
I decided to do this boudoir shoot for many reasons. For one I salute all those brave women who have won their battle against breast cancer. I pay my respects to all those who have passed away due to this illness. I honor all those families affected by a loved one who is suffering or who has suffered from breast cancer. This was a tribute to all women. I took this opportunity to appreciate my own body, to be happy with the way I look, to feel comfortable in my own skin and love the body G-d gave me. We, as a society, are obsessed with the way we look. We constantly look at perfect photoshopped models and compare ourselves to the unrealistic standards of beauty.
The biggest lessons that I can pass on is to really love yourself, respect your body and stop criticizing the way you look. Take care of yourself, check your breasts, go for regular check-ups and appreciate who you are and what you have to offer the world. My mom had a very low self-esteem, and I don’t want to follow in her footsteps as she experienced tremendous heartache because of this. I’ve heard that ‘we accept the love we think we deserve.’ We all deserve to feel beautiful, and there's no reason we can't feel empowered and sexy every day.