Spontaneous cancer photo campaign proves bald is beautiful
Michelle James' image marking breast cancer battle inspires others to 'embrace their inner baldness'
A photo challenge launched on impulse by Michelle James, a Saint John woman battling breast cancer, has put a new spin on what it means to lose your hair during treatment.
James was diagnosed more than eight years ago, just before she turned 37. She and her husband Jeff and their two daughters have been battling it ever since, she said.
"I think that when we were first diagnosed, it was me. But really it's not a person that's diagnosed, it's the family. Because it becomes everyone's journey, not just mine," said James.
She has endured 10 major surgeries and the latest round of radiation has once again robbed James of her hair.
James said she doesn't mind losing her hair, but she doesn't like that it instantly says to the world, 'I'm sick."
In a feel-good moment, she changed that perception by snapping a photo of herself and posting it on Facebook.
The photo came with an offer.
'Inspires every day'
"I was just having a good day. So I decided this could be a challenge, so dawn a scarf, or a hat, whatever you may choose, and embrace your inner baldness," said James.
James' daughters Shannon and Taylor quickly took up the challenge.
"My mom told me about it, then me and Taylor snuck downstairs and took a picture, posted it on my mom's Facebook page, and just started posted saying, 'start posting your bald-is-beautiful people,' and everybody did," said Shannon.
Shannon's sister Taylor said she wanted idea to go viral for her Mom.
"And have her realize there's not just her family around her. There are people that don't even know her. That she inspires every day."
Shannon said her school is planning to take on the bald is beautiful challenge to don a headscarf, add a group photo and donate a dollar to fight cancer.
James' husband Jeff chooses not baldness, but boldness, to show his support.
He is currently off work for to help his wife deal with her latest treatment.
"Do you shrivel up and let it take control or do you take control of it and carry on with your lives and smile every day that you possibly can?" he said.
James says this time feels different. Cancer has moved to other parts of her body.
"That can tend to get a little scary. But, we're hoping that this new treatment that we're on now, will give us at least more time, and ability to do the things that we want to do together, as a family."