Finalist Photographers
Estée Lauder Pink Ribbon Photo Award 2019


The 40 finalist photographers selected for this 8th edition of the Estée Lauder Pink Ribbon Photo Award.
The winners of the three Jury Prize and of the Téva Audience Award will be revealed on November 8, 2019 at Paris Photo Fair.

Many thanks to those who participated with their talent and heart in this 8th edition, whether they are lfinalists or not.

We want yo thank also our partners and the Jury members who have accompanied us again this year with great generosity.

Arnaud ROPARS [Ventabren]

Arnaud ROPARS [Ventabren]

Looking in this mirror,
This body ravaged in the past,
She now gazes at hope
And at her femininity that comes alive again.
What remains is this scar on her body,
In her soul, and her gaze,
But the gentleness of the hands that decorate it,
Now calm her distant nightmare,
Because they have both chosen to fight the disease,
Because they are both heroines of this new life.
David COMMENCHAL [La Madeleine-Bouvet]

David COMMENCHAL [La Madeleine-Bouvet]

A man in a rush, I met Sarah in a dry-cleaners: her life in five minutes, cancer included!
This fleeting interview gave rise to a first portrait, titled Belle de vie, in a magazine. Two years later Belle de vie was the title of her debut novel, of which she is the heroine. Belle de vie is now this photograph imagined in a noisy, small café, with contributions from Joëlle, novelist, and Sylvie, my partner, artist. A three-hour shoot in the studio, her book in her hand… the tattoos on her mastectomy scars created by Lisa, tattooist: a work of art on alighting on skin’s surface, extended by Sylvie’s drawings, for a photo that symbolizes the end of a period of remission.

“We can be heroes just for one day” David Bowie sang.
“We can be heroes just for one photo” David the photographer hopes!
David SOYER [Buhl]

David SOYER [Buhl]

A year ago, Houda contacted me to ask me to do her portrait, as she was. I immediately accepted. When talking with her, I understood that she was stronger than the disease. She didn’t complain; she didn’t even stop working. At the time, she was a construction site truck driver. The chemo didn’t tire her out, on the contrary, she was in top form and would party after work, sometimes until dawn. She provided a life lesson. So many others would have been desperate, whereas she continued to enjoy life to the fullest.
I wanted to photograph the disease in a raw and frontal way, without estheticizing.
Without a wig and virtually naked, Houda reveals everything. We have no other option than to look at wounds and marks caused by the disease.
Despite this, Houda is proud of her femininity; she is courageous. In her gaze and her bearing she says everything: “Cancer will not get me, I am indestructible.”
She is now in remission.
Laura BOUR [Trets]

Laura BOUR [Trets]

’Hero’: a person who distinguishes himself by his bravery.
I have been travelling an uncertain path for some years now. I navigate between fears, physical and psychic pain. I’ve lost my carefreeness in this battle for my life. I’m afraid and I am not the heroine that everyone describes. I don’t have a cape. But fear doesn’t paralyze me. I live as best I can; I smile, laugh, dance. I make this light, which the disease could switch off, burn brightly. This courage to live more fully I find by their side, in their philosophies of life, in their force, in their friendship, love and support…
Me? I am each of these young women. These six young women who have lost parts of themselves to cancer, but who, together, feel complete, so alive.
To feel alive, in terms of what makes us so vulnerable, is already a fine victory, not so? None of us has a cape, but united together, we are sure to be able to fly.”
— Fanny
Pauline THÉON [Clisson]

Pauline THÉON [Clisson]

My heroines have seen me grow up. They are gathered together in this photo: the last in which my grandmother appears, supported by my mother.
Both are nicknamed “The Miraculous.” Breast cancer was part of the final years of my grandmother’s life. Like a sword of Damocles, it became her travel companion; they got used to each other. Her whole life had been directed toward others, full of simple but sincere pleasures.
For me, it is a succession of memories: games played in piles of earth in front of her home, invented plays, drinking lemonade with slices of bread smeared with butter and chocolate chunks, sleeping in her bed, watching her comb her white hair back with a gray comb, taking the little key from her smock to go and get vegetables, drinking soup from Grandpa’s bowl, and hoping to become her one day. Memories and this final photo, in which I still feel the gentleness of their gazes upon me, are what are left to me.
Thank you, Grandma, thank you, Mom for having passed on this force to me.
Vlad VLADAU [Villeneuve-sur-Lot]

Vlad VLADAU [Villeneuve-sur-Lot]

Through this photographic gaze, which is mine, I’ve tried to bring a trace of and to share my testimony of my partner’s beauty, going through this extremely delicate and painful period in her life as a woman.
Clémence DUBOIS [Saint-Gratien]

Clémence DUBOIS [Saint-Gratien]

She is my heroine! An ordinary Wonder Woman, a peerless fighter, a boxer pummeling the tumor, a wrestler slamming the cancer cell on the mat.
Séverine, always with a smile on her lips, minimizing her pain and the disease, continues to live, love, and raise her small son with the determination and courage characterizing her in everyday life. A steely character who has often filled me with admiration, and with even more when this slip of a woman has known how to make the most of her multiple resources to repulse this muck which is cancer.
She is one of my best friends from high school, who approached me one day to ask me to take a photo of her. The main reason? She wanted to still feel like a woman, and the photo would also be an attempt to accept this new, amputated body. It was also an account of her struggle, the determination to show others that you can get through this. I decided to get her to pose in the studio, very simply, with the wish above all to show her how she is and will always be: beautiful.
Isabelle SOURIMENT [Goutz]

Isabelle SOURIMENT [Goutz]

“The disease, treatments, children, breast reconstruction, and an unexpected marriage proposal! The victory of life confronted with the disease!
A wedding full of meaning with this “aggressive” revenge on life, this thirst to increase all this energy tenfold so as to live, only…
A trace, a tiny trace, this almost microscopic scar… As though everything seemed so far away. But we don’t forget: we move ahead, we continue.
This victory, I won it; I’m taking me leave from this cancer.”
– Sophie

It is now three years that Sophie and I have been on this journey.
I have witnessed her battle, I’ve photographed the stages: with and without hair, without and with scars. I’ve seen her fight, I’ve seen her win. I’ve seen her cry, I’ve seen her smile.
Three years later, she got married. I was also her photographer on that occasion. She has her star, small cloud and her dreams above her head.
Life continues and she is a heroine!
David SCHLEMER [Épinay-sur-Seine]

David SCHLEMER [Épinay-sur-Seine]

Like a statue, a sculptor’s heroine, like a Camille Claudel in clay, a fighter and indestructible, Florence sat for me one day in April. To come out a fighter! This is the message she sends to us. The lightening speed of the disease nevertheless got the better of her bravery, of her battle, twenty-three months later.
This final photo of Florence, who demonstrates how invincible she is to our gaze, is bequeathed to her two daughters. Two ordinary heroines who command my admiration. Lola, eleven years old when she lost her mom, redefines my notion of heroism: to accept and to live. How I wish to show how much I admire her.
Then there is Lisa, 23 years old when her mom was taken from her. How she shows me what it is to be a woman, who constructs herself, learns a job, works, raises her child. Florence gives her two daughters – left to fend for themselves confronted by her absence – the bravery and heroism to shape themselves as women.
One cancer, three heroines.
Those who remain, who fight… They are the ordinary heroes of a childhood in mourning.
Boubkar BENZABAT [Paris]

Boubkar BENZABAT [Paris]

Arlinda is a longstanding friend from Kosovo. When she told me that she had cancer, I immediately went to Pristina to pay her a visit. Her chemotherapy had already begun; it was harsh because it was difficult for her to get the products necessary for chemotherapy in Kosovo ; they had to be brought in from Turkey.
Arlinda had always done a lot of sport, particularly karate to a high level. This practice had forged a mind of steel, which allowed her to fight the disease; today she is cured. She never hid that she was sick, even highlighted it, and was supported by her friends and acquaintances in Kosovo, who related her fight on their Facebook pages.
Arlinda asked me to take a photo of her when she was still in hospital in order to capture her determination to fight this battle.
Guillaume BRESSON [Castelnau-le-Lez]

Guillaume BRESSON [Castelnau-le-Lez]

When reading the theme for this year’s competition, it became obvious. Indeed, in the current torment after having brooded while asking ourself multiple questions. “Why me?” “Why us?” “What will I be like without my hair?” “Will I still be beautiful?”
What could be more obvious than paying homage to you through these few words and this image.
A hero is someone endowed with powers enabling him to overcome ordeals. You are unable to make yourself invisible or to fly, but you are endowed with a huge force of character enabling you to not only cope with ordinary life, but to fight and reject this individual that has come from elsewhere.
Someone said to us “for better and for worse.” I don’t know if fate has given us a glimpse of the worst, but sometimes this enables us to better savor the best.
Since the beginning of this episode, I wake up each morning thrilled to share my daily life with a superheroine.
I love you.
Arnaud REICHERT [Montpellier]

Arnaud REICHERT [Montpellier]

Participating was, for me, an obvious thing to do.
The disease closely affects me: my twin sister has been fighting against breast cancer for several years.
Battle after battle, ordinary and invisible heroines, these women fight with a courage that commands admiration. They are warriors, survivors, Amazons, with whom they sometimes share scars… In the middle of this merciless war that they wage each day, they have this force, this fierce determination, this lust to live and to conquer that makes them modern-day heroines…
With the theme of the competition – “Heroes” – I wanted, as a photographer, to pay them homage in the most literal way possible, by transforming them into ancient heroines, into Amazons, these warriors who, according to myth, cut off a breast in order to shoot arrows unhindered.
A fight. Force and bravery! Getting to the essence. Triumphing over the enemy. In their flesh, scars to show the violence of the battle.
Diane RONDOT [Malakoff]

Diane RONDOT [Malakoff]

Since my adolescence, I’d hated my breasts. I’d put money aside in secret with the aim of having a breast reduction operation and had an appointment with a surgeon. My stunned parents had finally convinced me to give up this plan. Years passed by. Getting undressed in front of a man was torture for me; I’d adopted strategies in order to hide my breasts.
When I was 38, I crossed the threshold and had an operation. Reduction of ptosis and breast protheses; at last I had beautiful breasts despite the scars.
In 2008, when I was 45, I discovered that I had breast cancer. The disease struck me as a kind of fatality.
This image recounts my story.
The X-rays with the protheses and the lead marble that they tape on the nipple during radiotherapy sessions.
Modesty still there, present.
Arms raised, victorious.
I overcame the disease. I’m an ordinary heroine, like so many women who go through this ordeal and fight valiantly.
Vanessa CORBELIN [Massy]

Vanessa CORBELIN [Massy]

I met my model in the place where I work, Institut Gustave-Roussy.
Every morning I was responsible for methodically aligning her four tattooing points, before starting up the radiotherapy equipment.
A few days before the end of her treatment, my patient arrived with a pink wig on her head. She wanted a photo to be taken of her with the laser.
This photo shows the force and determination of a woman who fights to survive.
She represents a futuristic character half-way between Sleeping Beauty and a Jedi warrior.
Who is the hero in all this, the nursing staff or the patient?
Definition of the word “hero”:
1. The hero distinguishes himself by his actions
2. The hero is a person who demonstrates great courage.
Frédéric VIGNALE [Paris]

Frédéric VIGNALE [Paris]

She’s a heroine who survived the worst; a fighter who can now support her masculine double beset by old age and sickness.
This photo is a symbol. It expresses black and white, ying and yang, youth and old age united by the shaved heads which evoke the disease.
Sarah DUFAURE [Bordeaux]

Sarah DUFAURE [Bordeaux]

Continue living!
Get up, make yourself a coffee!
Go out and party, see your friends, look after yourself!
Don’t collapse during the days you find yourself alone!

We are fighting against you, one knee on the ground.
The finest victories are ordinary ones, those that we win day after day and which allow us to again take control of our lives.
Today, even though the war isn’t over, you are beginning to exit from my life, you little demon.”
– Julie

Through this photograph, I hope to respectfully show private moments in a woman’s life, the challenges she faces. Like Superman confronting SuperCancer, she is content to play Clark Kent in the eyes of everyone else. Julie, or when SuperDignity eradicates SuperPity, when SuperFriendship batters SuperSolitude… When SuperJulie lives!
Sandra GRAMPFORT [Ramonville-Saint-Agne]

Sandra GRAMPFORT [Ramonville-Saint-Agne]

My baby, before you arrive in the world, Mom has climbed mountains that were so high she thought there would be stars at the top. To reach them, she has undertaken two long battles, accompanied by Dad.
She has eradicated thousands of little cells thanks to magical products and the fairies’ fingers who took everything away. It wasn’t always simple, but Mom has always believed in tales of superheroes. Sometimes she needed help, that is why you see scars on her body: each one has a story and all of them hide inestimable life treasures.
A few years later, your much-awaited arrival occurred! Your little body come to round out mine, you huddled up against it; then there was the imprint of your first gaze, our encounter. You are among these little heroes whose stories will never end because my love for you is eternal and will reach beyond the stars.
We will become, you, me, and all the others, the ordinary heroes of tomorrow.
Alexia VIC [Suresnes]

Alexia VIC [Suresnes]

I met Line, this slip of a woman, two years ago. I was struck by her force, despite her double breast cancer. I called my photo “Burden”. This burden that she has been bearing for fifteen years. I wanted her to lift up her breasts to show the weight that they represent in her life. The cap on her head, embroidered with black beads, conveys the long years of struggle.
My purpose was the first to expose all of Line’s beauty and femininity, which she has never lost. Line is a woman who I would describe as a chameleon, never the same and yet never exactly someone else. I focus my work on committed people and I always strive to create images that convey a powerful emotion.
Bruno QUIGUER [Rennes]

Bruno QUIGUER [Rennes]

“From this horizon sketched in the great quirk of my heart, you no longer look at me: mirror, my beautiful mirror…
In your secret, do you keep the memory of all your past reflections, or only the last one, which will always erase the following one in carnage? Have you kept in your heart the memory of what I once was? Won’t you tell me more than the present?
I put on makeup without you, just on one eye… I leave the other without a horizon drawn, to see, just like that, if it can nevertheless balance this gaze, if someone were to come and manage to hold it. Do you know the questions that constantly bother me? Who me could he? Who do you want of me? Who me you love you? Who tomorrow? Who two hands, two eyes, two arms, who one? Who belly without navel? Who calms? Who continues?
At night, I practice forgetting, like a child who plays. What has my childish laugh hence become? How is a dream formed?
My hand has caressed this horizon of the heart to break.
Tomorrow, no lies, I will go to meet you.”
– Lila
Sabrina WELLY [Strasbourg]

Sabrina WELLY [Strasbourg]

The time of hostilities has come.
War is declared.
Against your will,
It rages beneath your flesh.
Victory is not yet ours.
However the present belongs to us.

One day we will conquer!
In between, there is this “in between,”
Where we will form one body
And where we will give form to our mutual respect.
In this dance, in this trance.
Together is everything.

Ibsen said: “The only true rebellion is the search for happiness.”
Dominique and Patricia (whom friends call Cerisette and Pattou) are the greatest rebels life has allowed me to meet.
Dominique crossed paths with this vile thing… She lost a breast but she was never separated from this force that enables her to smile each day… And Patricia was there to support her in this combat she wages every day…
Both are radiant and I love them deeply; to my eyes, they are Amazons, women who submit to nothing, besides happiness.
Charlotte MANO [Paris]

Charlotte MANO [Paris]

Thank you, Mum! A photograph drawn from a project dealing with the battle of a mother and her daughter against the disease. Their relationship: who takes care of whom? How much time is left to us?
No matter, we are heroines!
Géraldine ARESTEANU [Orléans]

Géraldine ARESTEANU [Orléans]

Valérie first approached me to photograph her breasts before removal, then to show that she remained fully a woman through the transformation.
Her husband was never far away. Understanding just how much they dealt with the disease together, a situation which is unfortunately all too rare, I naturally got Laurent to enter the frame.
To be as close to the subject as possible, I chose black and white and no set. I placed them both very close to one another. The singular way that they had of embracing each other to me seemed to express something essential: they form a single being facing the disease.
Women suffering from breast cancer are the heroines of a painful battle that batters their femininity and sexuality. To be supported by the person you love is primordial, especially in order to continue feeling desirable.
The real heroes are these mutual love and desire, beyond the disease.
Alice MILLER [Seurre]

Alice MILLER [Seurre]

Agathe is 16. The age of insouciance.
But Agathe cannot live her adolescence in a serene manner. No, it is not possible: she is afraid for her mother; she is also very angry. A squatter has taken up lodgings in Delphine’s breast. Her mother is a fighter; she resists and will manage to get the squatter out, that’s a given!
This unwanted visitor pulls everything apart and Delphine has to start from scratch; priorities change; everyday life is complex but life is stronger. Love is stronger as well. The love Agathe feels for her mother can be seen in the tears which fell spontaneously during the photo shoot.
Stronger as two; stronger that the intruder.

Delphine wanted an Amazon body painting to symbolize her state of mind. The photo shoot was improvised around this makeup.
When a sense of decency made me stop taking photos, Agathe was submerged by emotion. And finally this photo recounts so many things. These women, my heroines.
Berta-Judit IBANEZ [Foix]

Berta-Judit IBANEZ [Foix]

My skin, this fragile and tense border separating me from the world. Behind it my body and its invisible disease – an unexpected visitor – is found.
But what disease wouldn’t be an unexpected visitor?
How long will it stay? Long enough to allow me to realize just how strong I can be, while I grow stronger and stronger.
What visible traces will mark my body?
What invisible traces will carve my soul?
My force forges my armor. It grows behind my burnt and ravaged skin, the visible surface of my latest battles. It transforms into a flow of vital and creative energy.
To be both photographer and subject: this is a new artistic experience of unsuspected power. It began the very day I received the news of my diagnosis: to turn my gaze toward myself and to transform the disease into a source of inspiration and, above all, into a territory of expression. Since then, paradoxically, my gaze on the world has opened up and become enriched.
Myriam DETREZ [Nampcelles-la-Cour]

Myriam DETREZ [Nampcelles-la-Cour]

Life is sometimes made turbulent by events that leave more or less visible traces, which we must learn to overcome.
Be carried on current, be as hard as a rock… Forget your body from before and learn to live with a new one, in order to hope for better days.
Anne D. LEFÈVRE [Bertangles]

Anne D. LEFÈVRE [Bertangles]

And she puts on her costume…
A superhero always has a costume. Once on, this costume allows him to cast aside his fears and flaws to wear a smile and demonstrate a force capable of overcoming every ordeal! The outside world sees her as an invincible person, sure of herself and without fear about the future.
My Mom’s costume is this mammary prothesis. Sometimes a burden to wear, it allows her to melt into the crowd and not let anything show through.
I was convinced that my Mom wouldn’t want to have this photo taken. But she immediately accepted, without even knowing what I was going to do, just because “I know this is important for you.” And then she said: “But you know, I’m not a hero.”
Yes, Mom! You are a superheroine!
Even a simple, ordinary accessory, to my eyes, transforms you.
There where “those who don’t know” only see a shawl, me… I see a cape!
A Wondermom cape.
An ordinary heroine of modern times.
Christian IZORCE [Levallois-Perret]

Christian IZORCE [Levallois-Perret]

My father, this hero.
Born in 1931, my father, Jean-Pierre Izorce, contracted polio when he was two years old. For the rest of his life, he would suffer from muscle weakness in his legs.
He married Solange Menet, my mother, on December 4, 1954.
Fifty-eight years later, in April 2012, my mother died as a result of a recurrence of kidney cancer, when she was eighty-three years old.
My parents always had an intensely close relationship and were rarely separated from one another. The only exceptions: my mother’s stays in hospital.
A year after her death, my father declared he had breast cancer. How can we not see in this an echo of this broken bond, lasting in a powerful way beyond my mother’s death? In a few months, he overcame this new ordeal.
A taciturn person, henceforth when these painful periods were evoked, he would punctuate them with a kind of evasive sweep of his hand.
My father, a very discreet man, is probably only a hero in my eyes. But that suffices for both of us.
Céline RUSSO [Mulhouse]

Céline RUSSO [Mulhouse]

“November 2018. The eve of my birthday. I had just finished four months of chemotherapy which had ravaged by body and soul. A little while earlier, I had met an incredible photographer, Céline Russo, “capturer” of souls, who made sublime images of women’s nude bodies. This image is the result of our encounter. She created a bubble where I could be naked, in the literal and figurative meaning of the word.
I wanted to show courage, resilience; the force of a woman who fights. And, above all else, that femininity and sensuality can be expressed despite the disease, without makeup, artifice, or hair. To all the ordinary heroines, I hope you can make this quote your own: “I bend but do not break” – this mantra that has been guiding me for more than a year. – Stéphanie
Marjorie GUIGUE [Beausoleil]

Marjorie GUIGUE [Beausoleil]

Here are two sisters. One is 40, the other 24. One has breast cancer, the other doesn’t. One loses her hair, the other doesn’t. One asks for nothing; the other then shaves her head.
This photo recounts a life, a powerful gesture, a sacred union in the battle. There is no need to add anything else.
Dominique CARBONE [Forbach]

Dominique CARBONE [Forbach]

“My name is Sandra. I’m 40 years old.
Suffering from three breast tumors, I watched my femininity tumble like leaves in fall.
Tears, disgust, shame, fear were reflected in my mirror.
Until now, when the talented photographer Dominique Carbone approached me and offered me the possibility of accepting my new woman image. “Heroes”, like a James Bond heroine.
We’re all concerned! Do breast cancer screening!”
– Sandra
Sophie SURGET [La Planche]

Sophie SURGET [La Planche]

The therapeutic photo
I had the good fortune to participate in this same competition in 2018 with my husband as model, and the photographer Wilfried Plenk.
This experience flooded me with a torrent of emotions and today I look again at these photos with much tenderness. Each photo moves me, speaks to me, gives me hope. I think, first of all, about the photographers who have decided, through this competition, to show another form of beauty. Through these forty photos, acknowledgement, gentleness, femininity, love, life, and freedom appear to us. The message passes thanks to you, thanks to us. We are warriors, Amazons, roses, heroines!
I am participating this year to pay homage to these photographers and models – heroes and heroines – who enable me to keep moving forward, to no longer be afraid.
Emma BOONNE [Sannois]

Emma BOONNE [Sannois]

A photo drawn from a photographic project ‘Stronger Together’: Laura, the bubbly woman in blue, has breast cancer and has fought against this crab and has come through the other side stronger than before. She poses here, surrounded by women. People around you, a sisterhood, and kindness are keys to accepting yourself and the body’s changes.
“You’ll have my breast, but not my heart!”
Putting these women, who send out a powerful life message, in the spotlight and no longer leaving them in the shadows is important.
Because we are stronger together, let’s stay united!
Sylvie FRÉJOUX [Toulon]

Sylvie FRÉJOUX [Toulon]

“Heroes or Not Heroes? After the news comes the treatment! It allows you to be treated and to get well… But at what cost?
Fatigue, pain, hair loss, the immune system dreadfully weakened… Difficult, but not insurmountable. To be seen as a warrior? No thanks! But instead as someone courageous, tenacious, joyful.
Did this ordeal make me a ‘Hero’? I don’t think so. A ‘Not Hero’? I’m not that either. But just someone more aware, conscious of her body and of the good fortune of still being here and well supported.
Thank you, my darlings, thank you life.”
– Stéphanie

As a photographer, I met Stéphanie in August 2016 (breast cancer / chemotherapy / radiotherapy / breast removal / reconstruction), for a portrait session. I’d adored our session back then. In 2019, a recurrence with another round of chemo; I see her again to photograph her energy at this moment. She is luminous.
Charlotte SZCZEPANIAK [Lille]

Charlotte SZCZEPANIAK [Lille]

This year, you set out to fight once again. This wasn’t part of our plans… You who thought you had found peace, would not have had much respite.
You were initially in denial, unable to imagine for a single moment that it was real. But, as always, you faced up to life’s unforeseeable events; you didn’t give in and you moved forward, head held high.
I recall your words – “It will be alright” – because everything is okay when you are there. Once again, I was afraid of death and of losing you… And, one day, against all expectations, hope was reborn.
Now more than ever, you are alive, despite this sword of Damocles you carry on your back. The crab will not get in the last word; you are on a quest for freedom, your freedom.

Text written in the context of my solo exhibition ‘Tant qu'on respire encore’ for Pink October 2018, in Lille.
Cindy MILLET [Fontainebleau]

Cindy MILLET [Fontainebleau]

To arms! “Dear Eugène,
At the dawn of my forty years, I would have preferred some other gift than your arrival at my place. Undesirable guest, you quietly settled in while taking care to leave your dirty linen lying about. I must accept this cohabitation. Me, who likes order, what a pigsty! I’ve rolled up my sleeves, put on my mask, knotted my scarf, and set out for battle. A big spring clean is necessary: I’ve got to kick you out. Despite your presence, I savor each second like each of my breaths. I walk with you, sleep with you, eat with you, love with you, weep with you, but I remain the captain of my body, the master of my destiny. You will not win. You’re in my house, get it!
A clean sweep, Eugène! To arms!
Sleep, and never wake up.
Leave, and never return.
But first of all, pick up your things, please.”
— Your host”

“The dangers of life are what give it value. The hero is he who takes up the gauntlet when all chances are against him.” Aeschylus.
Alice PRENAT [Paris]

Alice PRENAT [Paris]

“The scars and wounds induced by breast cancer aren’t always visible.
I’ve overcome it twice.
I was diagnosed young. I quickly had to cope with the loss of my breasts, hair, energy, intimate life, libido, but also the loss of my marriage, career, memory, financial stability, and even of some of my friends.
My life was going to be irreversibly different. Accepting this forced redirection was the key. Confronting my scars and my new body image in order to rediscover a certain self-respect. Finding comfort in this changed body, beautiful in its own way.
I learned to move forward with faith and not with fear. Acceptance leads to resilience.
By fighting against cancer, I lost some things, but I also gained a lot more.
Like a phoenix that is reborn from its ashes, today I feel stronger in my body and soul.
My mantra is to savor life because it is preciously golden.”
– Désirée
Natalia KOVACHEVSKI [Bormes-les-Mimosas]

Natalia KOVACHEVSKI [Bormes-les-Mimosas]

I met Sandhya in 2016 as a model. She already filled me with admiration.
The following year, December 13, 2017 marked the end of her former life. She continued to sit regularly despite the ordeals that she overcame and I undertook to symbolically illustrate each stage that her battle represented.
Her appearance evolved over the sessions; she seemed both vulnerable and yet always stronger. Our photos covered an aspect that was both full of light and darkness, shifting between the hope of recovery and the unbearable doubt that hovered on the horizon.
Through this image Birth of a Heroine, we present her struggle and her resilience. Like a madonna because she’s a mother, feminine because she’s a woman. The poppies for fragile fervor, the wilted crown for the ephemeral nature of things, the thistles for the spiking pain: the portrait of a heroine reborn from her ashes and who emerges from the fog like she does from the disease.
Mathieu GUILLOCHON [Courbevoie]

Mathieu GUILLOCHON [Courbevoie]

Here is Isabelle. She thinks of her mother, aunt, grandmother, these women with wounded breasts, these women with lost breasts.
She wonders whether it will be her turn, if she will in turn by touched by this legacy. No, she doesn’t want a turn.
She collects her thoughts and looks at me: “I have an appointment tomorrow at one o’clock.”
She is going to see “Ed the Kneader”, as she has nicknamed him, again. The man who makes her laugh so much when he examines her “infinitely soft” breasts.
“If I don’t joke,” he told her one day, “I’ll have bad news.”
Tomorrow, Isabelle wants to laugh once again.
She stands up when her name is called.
Who is the hero here?
Me, who waits for her return from the examination, my presence so important for her?
She, who, each year, confronts the possible consequences of a disease that runs in the family?
Is it the practitioner who, seeing me, says to Isabelle: “Ah, you’re with your bodyguard”?
He who, through this gentle quip, lets us know that everything is fine?
Tudal LEGRAND [Rennes]

Tudal LEGRAND [Rennes]

Before photographing her, all I saw of my mother was the mask that she had wanted to show for the past five years. The modest mask of a heroine who had courageously triumphed over the monster threatening her life.
This apparent ease should have caught my attention. I would have then seen that her victorious warrior’s costume hid a bruised being. A woman amputated in her femininity and a mother mutilated in her maternity. I would have then understood that she was now prisoner of a body she no longer managed to love.
Now I know; I understand her gaze in this photograph. Behind the image of an indestructible mother that she maintains in order to protect me, to protect the ones she loves, there is a vulnerable woman. This discovery in no way diminishes the pride I feel for her. She can continue to play her role of heroine, but right now I know who she is and understand what she is going through.
Stéphanie DANTEL [Fayence]

Stéphanie DANTEL [Fayence]

‘You are a strong woman!’ I’ve heard this sentence so often.
I often rejected it, reclaiming the right to also not be it.
However, this sentence has taken on meaning since I’ve become familiar with the disease. With each day that has gone by since receiving this terrible news, I have felt a little stronger, yes, it’s true.
Stronger to love. Stronger to accept collapse when it is necessary, all the better to stand up again. Stronger to let go. To reassure. To laugh and make others laugh. To share. This force, I receive it most of all from my father who passed away a few days before the battle declaration. Since then, he has never stopped being by my side. I owe it to all those who are around me, supporting me. Each word, each gesture, each kindness enables me to go on from battle to battle.
I decided to treat this disease as a gift. A badly wrapped gift, it is true. But it allows us, me and those who accompany me, who grow tall with me, to reveal the force within ourselves.
We are heroes, heroines of life.”
– Isabelle

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