A few weekends ago, Spencer Kohn and I summoned a group of superheroes to his studio in Bushwick for a top secret project. In attendance: photographer Spencer Kohn, the Young Survival Coalition’s (“YSC”) breast cancer survivors and my super son – Dylan. Yes, a photo shoot for the YSC’s upcoming In Living Pink Gala, for which I am this year’s Creative PR and Marketing Chair, was involved. In order to see the pictures, however, you’re going to have to join me (on my birthday) May 20th at the Gala. You can purchase your tax-deductible ticket here. If you missed our Survivor muse feature last week do make sure you to check out the incredible Mercedes Wilson story here.
This week’s Muse of the Week is Grace Foxton. Grace, a breast cancer survivor since December 2012 (she was diagnosed at 31 with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma), was one of the incredible models we shot at Spencer's studio. Grace works in Community Engagement at the Young Survival Coalition. Prior to working at the YSC she worked in marketing for ten years in Eastern London. Grace moved to New York last year with her husband. As I was interviewing Grace and she was going into the steps she has had to endure since her diagnosis my son listened in and so did I with awe and amazement. This might sound cliche but Grace told me all about her journey with such grace. Her smile, radiance, positivity and strength are captured here by Spencer. She is a young women in it and living proof how to get by. In our interview I asked Grace, how did you feel when you were diagnosed? She said, "everything I knew, everything solid completely collapsed around me. My whole identity was just completely smashed in the moment they said you have cancer." I asked her, how she moved through this feeling she said, "it has taken time it has only been the last year where I felt myself again and that's with support from friends, family, doctors, therapists, its all sort of a whole network." Grace found the YSC when she moved to NYC. It was not in the beginning of her diagnosis but she was ready to connect with others who understood her and had similar feelings. Switching her career to help others indeed is why Grace is clearly our muse of the week.
You can learn more about Grace below in my BTS Q&A interview. Thank you Spencer for capturing Grace's beauty and thank you Grace for sharing your story of survival. You are an inspiring woman. xo Stacy Igel:
1. What does 'Fuck Cancer' mean to you?
It’s an attitude. A desire to live rather than be defined by cancer.
2. How did you learn about the Young Survival Coalition ( YSC)? How has the YSC helped you in your journey through the discovery of this disease and coping?
When I moved from London, connecting with YSC was one of the first things I did. As a survivor, it’s important to meet other young women who understand what you’re going through. There’s nothing quite like speaking with someone who ‘gets’ it. Of course, family and friends are crucial in getting through a cancer diagnosis, but do be in a room with people who’ve been through it, that’s special. YSC makes this happen and offers wonderful resources, from Face 2 Face meetings, to advice on how to be your best advocate, to being a friendly voice on the end of the line. For that I’m forever grateful.
3. Will you be attending the In Living Pink (ILP) gala? Have you been before? If yes how does it make you feel to be in a room with so many survivors?
I will attend the ILP gala and I’m super excited! It’s my first one and, as always, it will be inspiring to see so many young survivors in one place.
4. Favorite quote?
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” (Elizabeth Appell). My Mother gave that to me when I was 14 and I’ve never forgotten it.
5. Have you changed your lifestyle (eating habits, working out, etc) since you were diagnosed?
I’m pretty much a vegetarian now, but I do eat fish sometimes. I try to work out three times a week, but it did take a while to get my energy back up after treatment. Nutrition is a difficult subject because there’s conflicting evidence, but the one thing we do know is exercise helps!
6. Can you share with us the last moment you shared with someone?
I was on the subway in NYC and, as I often do, I looked around and saw most people on their phones. But there was one older man who was smiling and I smiled back. We had a little chat - he told me what life was like in the 50’s, and how much had changed. I got off at my stop and realized I’d learnt something in those few minutes. It made me appreciate how important it is to look up.
All photos by Spencer Kohn
Get your own Fuck Cancer shirt and 10% off your order. Use code fuckcancer10 and get your shirt here.