Breast cancer conqueror offers hope to other warriors

click to enlarge Breast cancer conqueror offers hope to other warriors
(Nadia Larsen/Courtesy)
Nadia Larsen after her year from hell fighting and winning the battle: Beautiful beyond breast cancer.

Women — or men — can be at their best, healthy, strong and feeling in tip-top shape.

They can be 23 or 73, religious or not, Democrat or Republican, any race or nationality, rich or poor, any occupation.

Out of the blue, the perfect life comes crashing down when a breast cancer diagnosis comes. A deep feeling of doom is overwhelming. The fear? A death sentence.

Through the tears, the fear, the excruciating pain, the hair loss and the scarring, Nadia Larsen’s nonprofit organization, Nadia Strong, offers photography and breast cancer resources to help restore beauty. She brings hope to those who have begun their journey and to those who won the battle, but still carry the physical and mental scars, the terrifying reminders of the biggest fight for their lives.

In 2015, Larsen was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer. When she was declared cancer-free in early 2016, she knew she had to help other women. As a photographer, she documented her treatment, and felt that doing this helped in the everyday struggles of her treatment. She came to consider it an important component, among others, in her proactive battle to conquer cancer.

Nadia Strong is designed to empower and assist women and men undergoing breast cancer treatment and all survivors of the disease.

“What I did when I was going through radiation…I did the chemo, they (removed) the breasts, removed the lymph nodes, then the reconstruction and radiation, and after that I had several more reconstructions,” Larsen said.

“I was thinking, is there somebody in town that went through this hell…I literally call it my year from hell…is there a photographer who can document their journey.”

Larsen said she looked but found no such person, so she decided she would have to do it herself — a photographer and breast cancer survivor. It was the start of Nadia Strong.

“What I do, women (and men) who are survivors, conquerors…someone just told me, ‘I’m in remission,’ and I said, ‘No, don’t say that word...there’s no such thing,’” she said. “Remission means it may be coming back. I don’t like that word ‘remission.’ I am cancer free.”

The person asked Larsen how she knew she was cancer free. “I just took this test, here’s the brochure,” Larsen explained. Larsen is talking about the Galleri test.

The Galleri multi-cancer early detection test shows more than 50 types of cancer through a simple blood draw. Offering the benefits of early cancer detection, it detects many cancers that are not commonly screened for today, to allow for earlier treatment.

If a cancer signal is found, the results can point to the location with high accuracy to help a health care provider guide the next steps.

Through nadiastrong.org, women and men share their breast cancer journey.

“Then we meet up and I do a photo shoot for them and I send them all the digitals they want, all free, I don’t charge them for anything,” she said.

They then pick their favorite photos from the shoot to put on the Nadia Strong site.

“It gives hope to the other women who are just diagnosed,” she said.

“The photography is either during (their treatment), so they don’t have hair, or afterward, and they dress up and put on makeup to show them you can be beautiful beyond breast cancer.

“Then put it on social media or do whatever they want because this is not the end, you fought it and you’re going to keep fighting it.”

Nadia Strong is not just about photographing and sharing breast cancer survivors’ and fighters’ journeys. Her site offers recommendations and life-saving resources, such as the Galleri test.

Larsen said primary care providers can order the test, which is currently not covered by medical insurance. The price is $949, or $80/12 months billed afterward.

Larsen and photographer Jana Suchy of Way Out West Creative will host the Pink-Ribbon Boudoir Photo Exhibit and Silent Auction from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at The Post Workspaces, 7400 N. Oracle Road.

Admission is free and open to the public.

The show will feature boudoir photos from an August retreat for survivors. For more information, visit pinkribbonboudoir.com or email jana@wayoutwestcreative.com.

Nadia Strong Photography Inc.

“Beautiful Beyond Breast Cancer”

Nadia Larsen

6371 E. River Road, Tucson

520-245-8888

nadiastrong.org

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