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10 Stunning Portraits That Will Totally Change The Way You Look At Breast Cancer Survivors

The Grace Project captures moving post-mastectomy portraits of breast cancer survivors re-envisioned as classical heroines. NSFW: The photos in this series include nudity.

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Charise began the project after meeting a woman who was a 12-year breast cancer survivor.

Isis Charise / Via

"I worked as a boudoir photographer for many years," Charise told BuzzFeed. One day, a man called to book a shoot for his wife. "The day of the shoot, a beautiful and vivacious 62-year-old woman showed up to my studio determined to be covered up throughout her shoot,” she recalled.

Halfway through the session, the woman revealed that she was a 12-year survivor of breast cancer. "She was embarrassed about her breast, which she felt was mutilated," said Charise. "After her confession, she started exposing her 'good' breast to the camera while leaving the other one covered. She was feeling sensual and beautiful when suddenly she threw her clothes of and exclaimed 'fuck it! I'm doing this for myself!!'"

The transformation was "astounding" to witness, said Charise. "It was far too cathartic and powerful and experience to ignore. I knew in my heart that I had to explore this further."

Each photograph re-imagines a breast cancer survivor as a mythological figure or classic motif.

Isis Charise / Via

This is The Empress. The Empress is a powerful tarot figure. She represents creative femininity and rebirth.


For the women who participate, the project can be a critical part of healing.

Isis Charise / Via

"Most of the shoots are very emotional and profound," Charise told BuzzFeed. In a letter Charise shared with us, a woman named Terri explained that prior to getting photographed she felt ashamed of her body. But after the shoot, she wrote, "I am who I am, not because of my physical body, but because of what's inside....and no amount of surgery, cosmetic or otherwise will ever change that! I am a woman irregardless of what body parts must be sacrificed for the good of my health."

Charise hopes that by creating these pictures, she's helping to start a dialogue about what breast cancer survivors' bodies really look like.

Isis Charise / Via

"I believe this is important for women who live with the challenge of breast cancer and also for their partners, families and caregivers," she told BuzzFeed. "I hope that these images create a doorway that leads to further acceptance of the post-mastectomy body."

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