An Arkansas couple has gained a national audience after releasing a series of photos showing the emotional, vulnerable and powerful journey that cancer fighters face.
Charlie Johnson, 34, is battling breast cancer. Her husband, Kelsey Johnson, has been by her side every step of the way, including being the person to shave his wife’s head.
On her Facebook page, Charlie’s Journey, Charlie told the story of how at first she was told her lump was nothing to worry about.
“I was told it was just a benign fibroadenoma. That’s what the mammogram and ultrasound reports told us,” she wrote. “My nursing mindset told me that was the relief I needed. Just recheck it in 6-8 months.”
But over the coming weeks, Charlie began to feel increasingly uncomfortable, the supposed benign lump bothering her more and more. She self-advocated to have the lump removed, and was stunned at the pathology report.
During her follow up appointment, Charlie was told that her pathology results were carcinogenic, having the potential to cause cancer.
“The empty feeling I had was unexplainable. All I could think about was making my hour drive home to get to my husband,” Charlie wrote.
“2 days later I am 34 years old, sitting in an Oncology office, discussing my aggressive breast cancer, waiting on lymph node results to know just exactly what our plan needed to be.”
Charlie suddenly found herself scheduling chemotherapy dates, and taking on the scars and exhaustion of someone battling cancer.
The sequence of beautiful, raw photos taken by photographer Mandy Parks documented the moment Kelsey began to shave his wife’s head, as tears welled up in Charlie’s eyes.
As more and more hair fell to the ground, Charlie’s face and posture showed the determination of a woman poised to fight breast cancer.
Parks also captured the emotional pain that Kelsey Johnson was feeling as he shaved his wife’s head.
Cancer never just attacks the victim, rather, it wraps its clutches around family and friends who stand by the victim’s side.
Head freshly shaved, Charlie stood wearing a set of pink boxing gloves, armed and ready to fight.
Kelsey stood behind his wife, in silent admiration of her beauty, strength, and resilience.
“Strong women aren’t simply born. They are made by the storms they walk through,” Parks wrote on Facebook. “From the pain, mistakes, and heartache we achieve pride and strength.”
“I don’t know who needs to see this today. Or yesterday. Or someone you know might get this phone call tomorrow,” she continued. “Show them what strength looks like. Let them know they are not alone. Stand by them as they kick this like the warrior they are!”
In just a matter of days, the Johnsons have become a cancer spokes-couple, bravely showing the world what it looks like to walk through devastation as a team.
In a heartwarming social media post, Kelsey said he and his wife have found the positive responses to their photo shoot “breathtaking.”
“Our goal with this photo shoot was to help as many people as we can get through this terrible battle,” he said. “It has far outreached our expectations I think is fair to say.”
The Western Journal has reached out to Charlie Johnson for comment but has not yet received a reply. We will update this article if and when we do.
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