Earlier this year, at the height of a global pandemic and mandatory lockdown, Erik’s sister was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. We already had a pretty good idea that 2020 was going to be a total mess but never did we expect the big “C” word. We know breast cancer is not in our typical rotation of imagery or content. However, we wanted to bring light to a positive experience amidst all of the awful that breast cancer entails; henna crowns.
Amanda’s Experience – Battle with Breast Cancer
I can’t even pretend to know what the breast cancer treatment process is like. Let alone understand the toll that total hair loss can have on a person’s self-esteem and self-image. As Erik’s sister, Amanda, shared her experience with me, a few things became clear.
Women often equate their long (or short) luxurious locks to their femininity. Losing her hair was like losing a piece of her identity. It took her almost a week before she could look at herself in the mirror. The person she saw staring back at her was not the person she knew. It took another month and a half before she was even comfortable with her reflection.
Another theme I noticed, as she retold her story, was the sense of total loss of control. Amanda was someone who loved to regularly change up her look. Whether it was trying a new color or cut, the experience of going to the salon and coming out a with a fresh look was always on the table. However, this drastic change in appearance was a choice taken from her.
Though she had every intention of shaving her hair off on her own terms, time had other plans. Hoping to keep her long hair for just a few more days to celebrate her 30th birthday, she showered and washed her hair. And then it began. Chunks and clumps of hair getting tangled in her fingers before falling to the shower floor. She had run out of time and with each pass of her fingers through her hair, her control slipped away. Panic set in and then the sobbing and despair.
The Henna Crown Experience
It wasn’t until a few months later that she learned about henna crowns. Henna is a form of temporary body art using a semi-permanent ink that typically features small intricate designs to create a larger piece of art. Henna crowns are particularly special. They are often used to highlight a woman’s beauty and boost her self-esteem after having gone through hair loss due to breast cancer treatment. Rather than the typical placement on the hands and feet, a henna crown is designed on the crown of the head.
After doing a little research, Amanda came across 305 Pink Pack. They then put her into contact with a Henna artist who offers her services for henna crowns as a form of self care. Amanda met with Jade from Jade Maxx Henna who sat with her (masks on, of course) to discuss a design. Over the moon with excitement, Amanda was finally able to look in the mirror and see “a warrior” looking back at her.
With her confidence and self-esteem back and in full swing, she called us. She wanted a chance to show off her new (albeit temporary) look with a photoshoot. Naturally, we were all for it!
For Amanda, this photoshoot was an opportunity to break up the monotony of quarantine life and never ending medical appointments. It was a chance to “get dolled up and do makeup and feel glamourous”. However, it was the moment she saw the final images that it supported everything that she actually felt during the shoot. “I felt like I was finally regaining some control over my self-image”.
I know each woman experiences breast cancer differently and Amanda’s journey may not fully resemble your own. As we enter Breast Cancer Awareness month, our hope is to leave you with one parting wish. We hope are able find and do what makes you feel like the strong, beautiful, warrior woman that you are.
A Note to 305 Pink Pack and Jade Maxx Henna
We cannot stress enough the importance of the work you both are doing. 305 Pink Pack, you’ve really thought of it all to help make the active treatment process as smooth as possible. Alleviating as much burden as possible for your clients, it is clear that your work is a work of passion and comes straight from the heart.
Jade, you are a spark of light in the darkest of times for these women. Your detailed and personalized artwork is absolutely stunning. You love what you do, and it shows!
About Ashley and Erik Photography
We are a family of like-minded creatives in Miami serving South Florida and various destinations, who wish to be a spark in the lives of the clients and families we serve. We are dedicated to loving and serving our clients as if they were our own family, and elegantly preserving their stories to be shared with future generations. We’d love to grab a coffee with you and discuss any questions you have about our Wedding Photography Experience. Please feel free to contact us anytime.