Marissa grabbed Marlena from behind and wrapped around her soon to be wife tightly. Both women just stood looking at each other for a second, suprised to see each other actually ready to get married. But not too stuffy since Marlena still had plenty of hair on her dress from a good nap their cat had taken inside the tulle. Each reached out and grabbed the other, hugging so tightly, it was hard to make out that both of them were crying until sniffles had to be dealt with. Veils had to be adjusted. Tears had to be dabbed to ensure no makeup was smeared. I could have stood 2 feet from these ladies and they wouldn’t have cared because they wouldn’t have noticed.
There are lots of routine, boring things you do every month or week or day to just keep things going. Since I was 18 and learned how to do a self-exam of my breasts at a Pride event, that’s been a boring monthly thing I just do without much thought. My grandmother had survived breast cancer once 25 years ago and is now battling it again. It’s spread all over her body now, recently showing up as a giant tumor in her brain. We found out about the brain tumor about a month ago. I scrambled to get things together to go down to Virginia to help my family and most importantly, Grandmother, during a very tough time. We talked and talked about pictures I was finding in boxes. I figured out how to push her wheelchair as we went in for her radiation treatments.
So last Tuesday I jumped in the shower, and without much thought, starting giving myself an exam. It took all of 5 seconds for me to feel it. A lump. My thoughts just stopped. Can’t be. I felt again. It was still there.
Do you really want to keep feeling for it? Maybe it will just go away? I suddenly didn’t want to do the exam anymore. I didn’t want to feel that weird thing sitting in my body. Whatever it was. I went to bed not wanting to think about it. Be overwhelmed by it. But the first thing I did when I woke up was to feel for it. It was still sitting there.
Honestly, my first thought was “Fuck. It’s really still there?”. I thought maybe it would be absorbed into my body. Or hormones. Or the fact I’m so exhausted from working that I just was feeling normal breast tissue and I was doing something wrong. I know a bit about breast cancer and knew the chances were super slim it was anything dangerous. But it was a lump. I called my mom to see if she had ever felt a lump. She hadn’t. Which made me feel extra horrible. But she tried to reassure me with all the stats I already knew.
Then I had to call my doctor. That made it official. Yup, I found a lump nurse and I’m not totally freaking out. Yet. So that’s where I found myself, in my socks and exam gown. My biggest hope was that she would not feel the lump. Or feel it and be like, ‘Silly girl, that’s just *insert normal thing you find in your breast*’. I had been thinking about my own boobs way too much at this point and just wanted to be told the issue didn’t exist. But she found it right away. Again, my thought was, “Fuck. It’s really still there?”. I’m lucky to have a level headed internist that actually talks to me. She talked to me about cysts and various other things. And she told me point blank she wasn’t worried. We needed to get me a ultrasound but it was such a slim chance it was cancer.
Walking out of the office, I got a little freaked out and felt a little scratchy in my throat. I wanted her to say it was nothing 100%. I wanted her to not even feel the lump. I wanted it to be normal. But the ultrasound appointment reminded me it was something I needed to actually get checked out. Even if it was a small chance.
So right now, this lump is just sitting with me. I’m waiting till my appointment to get the ultrasound. Whatever it is, I’m darn glad I do self-exams. I’m darn glad my grandmother fought her own breast cancer so bravely. And I’m darn sure that there are other young women who are waiting to get their own test results. Are finding their own lumps. Whatever it is, it’s ok to get that scratchy feeling in your throat. To start being afraid of your own breasts. Like they are not your own body parts. Don’t wait- call the doctor. Get it checked.
This post was written before my ultrasound appointment. I’m blessed enough to have wonderful technicians and doctors walk me through the appointment and results. My lump is a cyst, not cancer, and I don’t have to get a mammogram. My grandmother waited 6 months after finding her lump to go to a doctor. Fear consumed her and then she had to be brave and fight for her life. Don’t ever wait. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Reach out. Do self-exams. Be aware.
Erin and Chris got married at what has got to be one of my favorite weddings ever: The Red Barn at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. I’d shot there back in 2009 and was dying to go back. The venue has, obviously, a red barn, which is perfect for fun, rustic receptions for up to 120 people, but even better is the epic tree under which couples can get married looking out at the mountains. Stunning. Style Me Pretty loves the Red Barn too, which was evident in their feature of Erin and Chris’s wedding last year. I was so excited to be featured on Style Me Pretty.
But it wasn’t just the venue that made this wedding so special; it was Erin and Chris, who are two of the kindest and warmest people you’ll ever meet. Their wedding was all about family: their families have been friends for many years, so the wedding was a chance for a really close-knit community to come together and celebrate the couple.
Venue: The Red Barn //Florist: Forget Me Not Florist // Wedding Decor Installation: Tanya Costigan of Bowties and Butterflies // Makeup: Maria of Vici Hair Studio and Beauty Bar // Hair: Hair by Harlo // Cocktail Hour Music: Floyd Patterson Band // Wedding Dress: The White Gown, Brooklyn, New York
One thing you should know about Chris and Erin is that they are avid marathon runners. So much so that they used their bibs from each of their races as table numbers, telling the story of that particular marathon on the back. The highlight of course was the New York City Marathon, and for a very special reason: the first time, they ran the race, Chris ran it with a ring in his pocket. At the end of the race, he convinced the officials to allow him to wait on one knee at the finish line until Erin finished. But this is SO rare Erin actually thought Chris was hurt and ran over in concern. At which point, he proposed and she said yes! Natalie was particularly impressed by this story, since she only runs if being chased.
I totally bonded with Erin and Chris because we’re all huge animal lovers. Chris and Erin LOVE their cats, so instead of favors, they made a donation to the Humane Society.
Check out how beautiful the grounds of the Red Barn are as the sun goes down.
July in Amherst, MA // Weather: Hot but with relief when the sun goes down // Favorite light time for shots: 7:45pm//
Getting Ready: 2:00 // Dress on: 3:10 // Bridal Shots: 4:15 // Ceremony Start: 4:45 // Group Shots: 5:20 // Couple Shots: 5:40 //
Reception Started: 6:20 // Sneaking out for 10 minutes of killer light photos: 7:40
Venue Love: The Red Barn’s epic tree and barn-like indoor space make it perfect for a rustic wedding.
Fun thing to think about: Including kids in your wedding can be a challenge but also so much fun. How cute are the girls in this wedding?
Lesson learned: Take a moment alone sometime after the ceremony. Not only does it allow for gorgeous shots during the best light, but it also gives you a few moments to stop and smell the flowers — literally.
Best thing ever: Chris’s tears during the ceremony. I’m a sucker for tears.
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