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Photo book celebrates breast cancer survivors

Karen Ackley of Fairfield appears in the book “Portraits of Beauty,” highlighting the beauty of the breast cancer survivor with photos by fashion photographer Bruno Gaget. The book was created by volunteers at the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center.

Karen Ackley of Fairfield appears in the book “Portraits of Beauty,” highlighting the beauty of the breast cancer survivor with photos by fashion photographer Bruno Gaget. The book was created by volunteers at the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center.

Portraits of Beauty, a book highlighting the beauty of the breast cancer survivor with photos by fashion photographer Bruno Gaget, was created by volunteers at the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center, who wanted to celebrate women who have made the journey through treatment to recovery.

The models are former and current patients at the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center who also wrote short statements about what helped them get through the experience. Many had a similar theme, focusing on the strength they had found that helped them take everything in stride.

“It’s amazing how they look at this,” said Karen Paloian, a member of the Breast Care Center’s President’s Council, who came up with the idea of a book that would show how survivorship is beautiful, inside and out.

“I don’t know if I’d be so strong,” Paloian added. “They find the strength somehow, through faith, family, one through a dream.”

One model, still in treatment described her experience as “just a bump in the road.”

“I get goose bumps thinking about it,” Paloian said. “I asked her, ‘That’s it?’ She said, ‘Yup.’”

Paloian and her co-chairmen on the project, Kelly Kenler and Julie Jandali, orchestrated the photo shoots with Gaget, a well known beauty and fashion photographer whose work has appeared in magazines such as Allure, Vogue, Marie Claire and In Style.

“They were an incredible two days,” Paloian said.

The first surprise was how upbeat the women were.

“They were talking, laughing, enjoying themselves,” Paloian said.

The models, in turn, were surprised to see how beautiful they were.

“Ninety-nine percent of them said, ‘I can’t believe that’s me. I look so good.’ They saw themselves in a different light than they had ever seen themselves before,” Paloian said.

The models also talked about the Breast Care Center, and how the staff made them feel comfortable and cared for, everyone from the receptionists to the nurses and doctors.

“I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without the people at center,” one model said.

“I was in awe,” Paloian said. “These women were so strong, empowered and beautiful. They reminded me how important it is to hold onto your dreams and focus on what’s important. They showed us that there is this amazing potential we all carry inside ourselves, and it is sometimes only under the most difficult circumstances that that side emerges.”

The book, which includes the models’ statements, was published by R. R. Donnelly and is available for purchase by calling 203-255-5300 or sending an email to bmgord@bpthosp.org. All proceeds benefit the Norma F. Pfriem Breast Care Center.

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