My daughter has been asking me for a while now if I will be a famous photographer. I tell her that I won't be, that I am quite happy to photograph the circle of people that I have been blessed with. So it was a first for me a few weeks ago, when we were taking our family pictures in Kent, for a lady to walk up to me and kindly ask me if I was Cassandra Hamilton and if I was a photographer. She went to get coffee with a friend and met up with me at the end. She had seen my website on the recommendation of a friend who had suggested that she contact me about having portraits done before her surgery. She is fighting cancer and is scheduled for surgery this week. I have walked enough with the Lord in my life to recognize when things are not just co-incidences....but real opportunities for connection from Him.

So we set up a time to meet. Julie sent me the link for THE SCAR PROJECT. Every time I have looked through the images, I have been deeply moved and pretty much cried at the portraits of these women whose courageous, fierce, strong beauty is so powerful. As I thought about this session beforehand, I so appreciated Julie's wisdom and willingness to document her journey. As much as I love documenting the high points of life, the reality is that it is in the difficult times that character and strength of heart are forged. It is well worth photographing too. If I was in her position, this is what I would want too.

I came to her home at the last light of a day that had been stormy and messy. Her cat was checking me out (I don't know that I ever met his approval) and she had some disco music playing. We paged through a gorgeous book of art about women fighting breast cancer and I asked questions about the process she's walked through. It was so apparent to me that she's someone who chooses hope and life. She laughs. She's thankful. She is strong.

She showed me her wigs and we chose a few to take some portraits of outside. Jim, her husband, kindly let me take a few pictures of him too. She spoke highly of him and his support.

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There is a beauty that burns deep in the heart of a woman who loves and lives well. She was shining with it.

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Then we went indoors and did a series of pictures of her at her window. Honest. Striking. Engaging. Of course, there are some that I will leave for just Julie but I wanted to share a couple favorites.

This one we used some of the pictures of different parts of her life.

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The deepest beauty comes from a heart that is filled with love. I am praying for Julie as she goes for a mastectomy tomorrow, that she would feel all the love of her friends and community, of those who cheer her on from a distance, and of the very richest love of a Heavenly Father who cares for His children.

I am asking that you would say a prayer for this woman today, for peace and comfort and strength. If you would leave a comment to let her know that you are thinking of her, that would be so appreciated too.

Julie, this is part one. When we photograph you for part two, you will be every bit as lovely. Thank you for sharing this time with me.