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Breast cancer survivors show their sparkle, celebrate their bodies at photo shoot
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Leslie Rucker of Marietta has body paint applied by Natalka Tyniec at the Sparkle & Celebrate Pink photo shoot Sept. 30, 2018, at Mirrored Images in Gainesville. - photo by Shannon Casas

It was a glitter-filled afternoon designed to help women restore their self-confidence.

On Sept. 30, seven women traveled to Gainesville and met at Mirrored Images Boudoir on Georgia Avenue. 

Some of them knew each other, and others were meeting for the first time for the Sparkle and Celebrate Pink photo shoot, but they had a common bond — they were all breast cancer survivors.

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Leslie Rucker of Marietta has her photos taken by Jenn Hyman of Mirrored Images Boudoir in Gainesville. - photo by Shannon Casas

Mirrored Images teamed up with Cotton Rouge & Co., Cotton Rouge Photo and Staci Gibbs Makeup to provide makeovers and a photo shoot for breast cancer survivors. The women, decorated in body paint and glitter, gathered to celebrate their bodies, even if cancer had changed the way they looked.

Jenn Hyman, owner and photographer at Mirrored Images, said she has bonded with cancer patients through her work as an emergency room nurse, and she wanted to find a way to help them through her photography.

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Breast cancer survivors had hair, makeup and body paint done Sept. 30, 2018, for the Sparkle & Celebrate Pink photo shoot at Mirrored Images Boudoir in Gainesville. - photo by Shannon Casas

“I wanted to give them a day that they could celebrate how beautiful they are and how strong they are,” Hyman said.

She said she wanted to help the women embrace their bodies, including their scars, and encourage them after what they had experienced.

“Some women have had reconstruction, others haven’t, some have more scars than others, but regardless, not only is it physically traumatizing but it is emotionally,” Hyman said.

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Leslie Rucker of Marietta has body paint applied before a photo shoot Sept. 30, 2018, at Mirrored Images Boudoir in Gainesville. - photo by Shannon Casas

Hyman recruited makeup artists and hairstylists to spend the day at her photo studio in Gainesville. For a few hours that Sunday, the space was filled with women helping each other get ready, taking photos, and bonding and sharing their stories.

Theresa Farmer traveled from Covington on Sept. 30 for the photo shoot. She said she first noticed a sore on her breast in January 2009, but it did not fit with what she knew about breast cancer. She went to the doctor in November 2009 and learned she had Paget disease of the breast, a type of cancer that involves the skin and is often associated with lumps in the breast as well.

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Leslie Rucker has a quick snaphot taken by Sharon Dickinson, designer for Shameless. - photo by Shannon Casas

“We’re told as women to look for lumps, we’re told as women to look for changes, but no one says that if you have a sore, you need to get that looked at,” Farmer said.

Farmer, who is now healthy, had a lump in her breast and had a bilateral mastectomy in 2010. She also went through chemotherapy as part of her treatment. 

She said women should be proactive about their health, even if what they see does not seem like a problem at the time.

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Leslie Rucker of Marietta has body paint applied by Natalka Tyniec at the Sparkle & Celebrate Pink photo shoot Sept. 30, 2018, at Mirrored Images Boudoir in Gainesville. - photo by Shannon Casas

“It might seem like some insignificant, little itty bitty sore. It could be something. ... I just thought it was nothing. I thought they were going to send me to a dermatologist,” she said.

She said she appreciated the opportunity to meet other cancer survivors and celebrate each other free of judgment — “To help us women not be ashamed of us that have gone through this, and our bodies change so much, and the way we look and think,” she said.

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Freelance makeup artist Staci Gibbs applies makeup to Theresa Farmer of Covington while Kristi Purvis of The Teal Magnolia Salon in Cumming does her hair. - photo by Shannon Casas
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Leslie Rucker of Marietta has her hair curled by Kristi Purvis of The Teal Magnolia Salon in Cumming. - photo by Shannon Casas
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