Nobody Chooses Cancer | Powerful Women Portraits

female cancer patient looking through veil

Nobody chooses cancer. Nobody wants to go through chemotherapy or radiation for the pure experience. Nobody wants to deal with nauseousness, long hours at the hospital as the medication drips into your blood stream and your hair starts falling out.  NOBODY!

female cancer patient looking through veil

Nobody Chooses Cancer!

And yet, so many of us do. So many of us do because we do not have a choice. Cancer crashes into your life and knocks you over. All of your well laid plans for the coming weeks and month come to a stand still as you grapple with the reality of what just hit you. This past week I was privileged to document a part of my friend Nicole's story in stunning, powerful portraits. I wanted to create images that portray the many facets of emotions you might go through on a day to day or week to week basis. I wanted to create images that allow you a glimpse into the soul of a woman fighting cancer.

Most of all though I wanted Nicole to see her amazing beauty and strength.

Nicole has given me permission to share a few images from her session taken at my studio in Mount Joy, PA. Some images are too intimate and are hers to view alone or share with loved ones.  My hope is that these images will pull you in and show you the strength, beauty and determination of a woman who looks cancer square in the face and says "Not me" (feel free to choose your own words here).

female cancer patient embraced by soft sweater

A soft, warm sweater hugs Nicole. It can feel like a cocoon or warm embrace.
It can help you hide in the depth of the folds on days when you
don't want to or are not able to talk to anyone.

This embrace can also feel like you are loved and carried by many.
The yarn of life knits a protective layer for you to sink into.

female cancer patient laughing

Some days you are full of laughter spilling out from deep within.
Those are good days. Life giving. Strength building.
Laughter helps you brave the next day.

female cancer patient looking through veil

As her cancer story unfolds Nicole feels like sitting behind a veil of the unknown.
You get glimpses of information. Some make sense, some not at all.
These are times where you hope to get a view of what is to come.
The good, the bad. You just want to know.

It is moving with determination so that the light beyond the veil
will reach your eyes to bring clarity to the next step, then the next step and yet another.
It is not walking without fear but braving the wilderness.
(I had to throw in a reference to Brené Brown, one of Nicole's favorite authors).

bold, bald, powerful portrait of female cancer patient

I'm using a couple of excerpts from comments left on this image by friends and family. They describe so much better than I ever could what the image shows:

Evolution continues. Your eyes tell a truth that only your soul speaks.

Honestly, I've looked at this photo at least 20x now... and it moves me each time..
I'm struggling to describe the power it speaks...
what a beautiful gift you (Heike) have given to Nicole
with this powerful, fierce, yet gentle, peace filled photo.


Wow!!! Nicole, you are stunning!! She really captured your essence!!


So my initial thought was Damn! But wasn’t sure if that was appropriate.
😃 So I will go with the words of one my fav writers. Phenomenal woman (In all the ways)


This. Is. So. Powerful.

This. Is. A. Warrior.

This. Is. A. Badass.

This. Is. My. Nicole.

Trust is everything when you share your story through a photographer's lens. So I want to say "Thank you, Nicole" for trusting me with this chapter of your story. I'll be cheering you on.

📷 Heike Martin | Makeup by Tiffany Buckwalter of Fearfully & Wonderfully 139

Photographer Heike Martin

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Heike Martin is a personal branding and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA. She specializes in capturing your life and business moments in emotive and authentic portraits. You will experience a fun, relaxed and professional atmosphere.

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14 thoughts on “Nobody Chooses Cancer | Powerful Women Portraits

  1. This is an absolutely powerful piece and I am so proud to call that beautiful muse of yours my sister and friend. Thank you for making such beauty out of something so dark and hard.

  2. Heike, your words, so moving… filled with such love… spoken through your heart… I read it all out loud, so that it would impact me even deeper.. “from the ashes” comes such beauty… beauty in Nicole…beauty in your words… beauty in the way this has impacted so many of us.. Thank you for doing this, for sharing this, for allowing us a glimpse of what she lives… thank you Nicole for your vulnerability. Heike, you alleviated her fear and presented her, through photos, with dignity, grace and the basassness we all love!

    1. Thank you, Eileen. Thank you for describing your thoughts and feelings and the impact it has had. I love the “beauty from ashes”. That means a lot.

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