Today, the team at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction is honored to share with you an In Her Words interview with professional photographer Susan Lloyd. Susan works closely with Susan G. Komen Lowcountry as their events photographer.
Read below for our interview with Susan.
1. Tell us your story. How were you introduced to the breast cancer community?
I’ve had an interest in photography for most of my life, but never took it seriously until about twelve years ago. I shot professionally for a time, took another job for a few years, then came back to photography. I just couldn’t put the camera down! I started shooting professionally again just a few years ago and have an entirely new appreciation for the craft of photography. In all honesty, I can’t think of another thing I would want to pursue, career wise. Oddly enough, though, I studied music education in college, and the first time I came face to face with breast cancer was during that time, over twenty years ago. A hall mate who became a very close friend of mine our freshman year started college the same year her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. For our whole college career her mom battled the disease, and it had a huge impact on my friend. Just a few years after graduation, her mother passed. I remember thinking of all the things she was going to miss- her daughter’s wedding, grandchildren, retirement- and how it seemed she was robbed of so much by something that seemed so senseless. In recent years, I’ve had several friends and one family member diagnosed with breast cancer.
These women are all still living, and living proof that breast cancer awareness, advances in early detection, and more sophisticated treatments ARE making a difference. But it wasn’t until this past year when I got involved with Susan G. Komen Lowcountry that I really became aware of how far reaching the breast cancer community is. Patients, family members, concerned citizens- so many people who have been impacted by breast cancer, have come together in support of each other and to continue to move forward towards a cure for all women who are diagnosed.
2. It must be eye-opening and humbling to be a photographer for Komen. How did this happen for you?
My work was seen online by Jordan Freeman, an employee of Trio Solutions the marketing group that works with Komen Lowcountry. Jordan had an interest in a band I had done some work for and followed the link on their photos back to my Facebook page. From there she became a fan of my page, continued to see the work I posted, and when the time came for Komen Lowcountry to find a new photographer to cover their events, Jordan reached out to me. I was hugely honored and really didn’t hesitate to contribute my time. One of the goals I had when I started to shoot professionally was to make sure that I was using my skills to help build up my community. Working with Komen gave me the perfect opportunity to do that.
3. Why is the opportunity to photograph for Komen so important to you? Do you have any photography stories to share?
First of all, I truly believe that to try an exist outside of community is a recipe for disaster- if you live only for yourself and invest only in yourself, you’ve missed a big part of what it means to be alive. So for me personally, being involved in something that is bigger than myself, that’s hugely important. Specifically, photographing for Komen means that people can see there is hope, there are people working very hard every day to make a difference, and there are women who can say ” I made it through”. There are so many facets of the work Komen does, it would be impossible to capture it all in photos or words. However, people need to see- they need to know- that getting involved with Komen does make a difference. Things are changing. More women are being diagnosed, receiving treatment, and surviving because people are getting involved.
Photographs many times will impact us in ways that words can’t, and I’m happy that I can produce something that might possibly move someone towards action.
The most exciting thing that I got to witness last year was the start of the Race for the Cure from about two stories off the ground! Seeing thousands and thousands of people with smiles on their faces, optimistic and solidified in their support of Komen, it was overwhelming and truly amazing.
4. What is the one thing you want all women to know about breast cancer?
I think the most important thing to know, outside of early detection, is that a diagnosis does not have to bring isolation with it. In fact, because of the work that Komen is doing, a diagnosis can bring you into a new community. You will not be alone. There are health care professionals, volunteers, survivors, a whole host of people who will walk with you and support you. And there is so much compassion in that community- true compassion that says “We are here. You can fight this fight. We will fight it with you.”
5. What’s next for you in the world of Komen and photography? Upcoming events?
I recently photographed the Grants Awards Reception which is such an awesome thing to witness. The fundraising efforts of Komen Lowcountry throughout the year translate into financial blessing for facilities and organizations that work tirelessly to reach so many underserved women in our area. When the grant checks are awarded, a recipient representative speaks about what it means to receive that kind of financial support. That’s when you really understand that Komen is reaching deep into the lives of women throughout the lowcountry, many of them who are uninsured and underserved.