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Photos Powerfully Capture a Husband and Wife's Battle With Breast Cancer

Best Life logo Best Life 8/22/2019 Diana Bruk
a man wearing a hat © Provided by Best Life

In May, Charlie Johnson, a nurse from Arkansas, married the love of her life, Kelsey Johnson, a construction coordinator. Like most couples on their wedding day, the new Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were sure to have a photographer capture all their special moments. But the following month, when Charlie was diagnosed with breast cancer, they decided to do a very different kind of photo shoot, which has since gone viral.

“Before I even knew that I was going to have to get chemo and radiation, I had the idea that I’d want to do a photo shoot of shaving my head,” Charlie told Best Life.

a little girl that is standing in the grass: charlie kelsey johnson © Provided by Best Life charlie kelsey johnson

Photos by Mandy Parks Photography

“[I wanted] to make it beautiful, in the hopes of somebody seeing it that’s having a bad day and having it empower and encourage them in some way,” she added.

a girl in a pink dress: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography

Charlie asked her friend, professional photographer Mandy Parks, to help make her idea a reality. “It’s an ugly part of a terrible disease,” Mandy told Best Life. “We wanted to shed a more positive light on it and make it beautiful.”

a group of people standing next to a person: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography  

“There are thousands of people going through this every day and I thought it would just be so cool to let them know that this is just part of the fight,” Mandy added.

a person wearing a costume: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography

Needless to say, the photo shoot was a challenge for everyone involved. “I’m pretty sure I had every emotion you could imagine during that photo shoot,” Charlie said. “But I took deep breaths and thought, ‘This is it. This is what it’s all about. Taking control over it and making it yours.'”

a person that is standing in the grass: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography

It wasn’t easy on Charlie’s husband either, but he did it for her. Both the photographer and her subjects thought it was important to capture the pain that loved ones of those battling cancer often suffer in silence.

a man wearing a hat: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography

“The pictures of Kelsey crying represented the many male caregivers that are [supporting] their wives in this terrible disease,” Mandy said. “There are so many husbands out there that have to watch the people they love go through this and it’s a helpless feeling. There’s nothing they can do, beyond loving and caring for them.”

a man wearing a hat: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography

“My husband was amazing throughout the whole thing,” Charlie said, noting Kelsey was “so strong to be able to do that.”

a couple of people that are standing in the grass: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography  

Since Mandy shared the photos on her Facebook page on Aug. 20, they’ve received more than 14,000 likes along with hundreds of comments from those moved to tears by the hauntingly powerful images.

a girl in a pink dress: mandy parks photography © Provided by Best Life mandy parks photography

“We thought the photos would cause a little ripple, but we had no idea they’d cause a wave,” Mandy said.

“That photo shoot has accomplished everything that I set out,” Charlie added. “The messages that I’ve received from people mean the world to me.”

Gallery: 10 Types of Cancer That Are on the Rise (Provided by Best Life)

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