Thrilled that Babble included Jill's picture in their 50 Favorite Valentine's Photos on Instagram!!
If we ever met in real life, I'd like to think Jill Brzezinski-Conley and I would be instant friends. Hers is an incredible, brutiful* story splattered in courage and love.
My sister-in-love shared a post to introduce me to Jill, and before I read a word or watched her video, I saw a girl after my own heart: a princess spinning in front of the Eiffel Tower in a flurry of pale
pink and tulle.
Her story will wreck you–
- Diagnosed with breast cancer one day before her 32nd birthday, only six months after she married the man of her dreams.
- She learned the younger you are (like Stephanie in my Downton Abbey post), the more aggressive cancer can be; her treatment included 16 rounds of chemotherapy, 31 rounds of radiation and 4 surgeries including a double mastectomy (with additional surgeries to follow).
- After two years her cancer was in remission; but a year later it was back with cruel vengence, this time burrowing into bone and diagnosed terminal.
Jill's story is personal to me because breast cancer is so intrinsically tied to who I am; it robbed me of memories of my mom. Jill is so brave, she's willing to bear her scars to make them less scary for others…and seeing hers catapulted me back in history to that one time I remember seeing Mama's scars.
Women who endure mastectomy are the steeliest of magnolias.
Jill has become a living cautionary tale, urging others to screen, educating about early detection, and hoping to help at least one woman with her story.
She's not gonna get that wish; her story is already helping thousands.
The mini-documentary below is stunning; a collaboration between photographer Sue Bryce and film maker Hailey Bartholomew. Jill's candor, powerful ferocity and joie de vivre will inspire you. You'll weep for her circumstance while cheering her on as Torchbearer for worthy cause. You'll understand how she can say " I really do believe god gave me this horrible disease for a reason."
Jill's powerful words below capture what I was trying to express in my previous post, A fool's delusion, a cautionary tale and how Downton Abbey can save your life—
Sue Bryce, the brilliant photographer who captured Jill's life and message published this familiar reminder about cancer, juxtaposed with the perfect image from Jill's photo shoot. I adore Sue's take on Jill's story, "This is not a story about cancer. This is a story about love, and it’s a story for all."
I'm inviting you (begging you?) to help me share Jill's story. Pin, Facebook share/like (the button is right at the bottom of this post!), Tweet, Email, Stumble, Tumble or social-network-whatever my post and any of these links I've shared.
This one is sealed with love from me to you. xo
Related links ~ you'll want to click every one. I have, some over and over…
- Jill's Facebook page
- A portal to donate safely to Jill's medical bills
- Photographer Sue Bryce
- Film maker Hailey Bartholomew
* Brutal + Beautiful, borrowed from my lovie and author of Momastery, Glennon Melton.
Title quote by Kahlil Gibran.