An incredible documentary, featuring terminal cancer warrior Jill Brzezinski-Conley, is rapidly going viral. With 100,000 hits in seven days, the video shines a light on breast cancer and the toll it takes on the brave women and men that often goes untold.
Four years ago, Jill was vivacious 31 year old living a wonderful life in Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, she met a man from Kentucky and a long-distance relationship ensued. Before long they got engaged, got married, and settled in Kentucky. While only six months into their marriage, Jill and her husband got the devastating news that she had breast cancer. After undergoing a double mastectomy and 16 rounds of chemotherapy, Jill was in remission for a brief period. But now, at age 35, Jill has been diagnosed with incurable stage-4 breast cancer since it has metastasized to the bone.
On a recent visit to Seattle, Jill hooked up with childhood friend Nikki Closser. Jill asked Nikki, a wedding and portrait photographer, to take pictures of her without her prosthetic. Jill's wish was to enlighten and educate the public about what breast cancer looks like by publishing photos in cancer publications. Jill is quoted as saying, "[The media] never shows what breast cancer looks like."
Nikki emailed the photos to her mentor, Sue Bryce, an award-winning portrait photographer and instructor whose work she admired. Nikki's email resonated with Sue and she was immediately in touch with both Nikki and Jill. Sue surprised both of them with an invitation to join her in Paris with the goal of taking incredible portraits and documenting Jill's breast cancer story with famed film-maker Hailey Bartholomew. Sue took Jill's wish to heart and set out to illuminate her story with the city of lights as the amazing backdrop.
The viral video is making its way to The Today Show on NBC who will be interviewing Jill and Sue on a segment of the show. They will discuss the arduous battle with breast cancer and educate the public on the personal aspects of post-mastectomy surgery and prosthetics.
It's been a devastating journey, one which Jill has said strips you of your pride. Bart, her husband, had to tend to every little need because the after-effects of the chemotherapy are so draining and painful. "It was just devastating,'' she says in the documentary. "It's indescribable how painful (a double mastectomy) is. You just don't have any pride left.''
Despite the battle with cancer, Jill's outlook has been incredible, and her sense of humor is as strong as ever. Her goal to get the word out has inspired everyone around her, with the hope that her story can send a positive message to others in similar situations.
"If we can show everybody through her how to just be so beautiful with those scars out, that anybody could pretty much confront anything themselves after seeing something that beautiful,'' Sue says in the documentary. "I will say the entire time that she was without clothes, I never saw any scars on her body. I only saw this incredible smile."And wouldn't it be wonderful if a company like Victoria's Secret could change the perception that breast cancer warriors are beautiful, too?