It was about 7:30 at night as I sat on my phone scrolling through Facebook. I received a notification that a friend had tagged me in a post and thought “hhmmm, what’s Amy tagged me in?” It was an urgent call out for a hair and makeup artist to help out on a photoshoot the next day.
Now I don’t really offer my services for free these days, my time and skills are valuable and the products in my kit aren’t cheap. BUT when this is the brief you HAVE to put your ego aside and act like a human being:
“We’re working on a gorgeous photoshoot in a “Make A Wish” type project for a beautiful 16 year old girl who has been suddenly diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer.”
My eyes welled with tears as I read those words over and over in my heads trying to make sense of them. But they didn’t. A 16 year old with aggressive brain cancer? WTF???? That could be one of my daughters in a few short years! How utterly heartbreaking for her and her family. How the hell can I say no to this? The location was close to home, my kit was packed, I had nothing planned for the day and my husband was off work and able to pick up the kids from school. It was all too easy. Simply meant to be!
The idea behind the shoot was to give Jenny a day she’ll never forget, one where she’s made to feel like a princess and to show her just how beautiful and special she is before the effects of intense radiation and chemotherapy take over. Now I know I bung on about this a bit, but one of the things I love about my job the most is being to make women look and feel amazing, to bring out their inner beauty so that they see what others see. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give this gift to Jenny, especially before she faces potentially losing her hair amongst other side effects of her impending treatment.
I walked in to the gorgeous studio of Begitta Bridal & Couture in Burleigh Heads and was instantly greeted by four smiling faces who looked just as excited about the project as I was. My fears of not being able to control my emotions and put on a brave face for Jenny immediately vanished. I could feel the love in the room and see that Jenny was a bright and bubbly 16 year old girl who was well spoken, well mannered and knew what she wanted out of life.This was going to be a fun day full of laughs and yummy treats baked by Jaime (one of those beautiful souls who arranged this special day for Jenny).
I set up my station and went to work, transforming Jenny from fresh faced 16 year old girl to total bombshell ready to star in her very own couture fashion shoot fit for a princess. I gave her soft waves and pinned her hair up so as not to cover her gorgeous smile while being photographed on the beach later in the day. She had picked 3 stunning gowns designed by Begitta, one hot pink, one bold yellow and the third was a fabulous turquoise number. So what eyeshadow look should I do? Gold. A warm gold toned soft smokey eye to compliment Jenny’s blonde hair, brown eyes and skin tone. A versatile yet striking look that was still age appropriate.
The makeover took around 2 hours and Jenny giggled and smiled the entire time. Then it was time to play dress ups and pose for the camera. Behind the lense was Erin of Erin Smith Photography. She snapped away directing Jenny to look here and there while swapping between her “face lense” and the all important “legs lense”.
I stayed for the first outfit change and snapped some of my own paparazzi shots before leaving the ladies as they headed off for some beach shots.
As I walked back to my car the mum in me couldn’t help but think of Jenny’s own mother. I imagined her reaction when she saw Jenny walk in the door that evening with her hair and makeup all done, and how much she would love and cherish the beautiful photographs Erin was going to give her. I thought about my own two daughters and how I would cope if one of them had to go through something like this. Then I started to smile as I rembered Jenny’s infectious smile that had greated me when I first arrived and had waved me goodbye thanking me. I thought about how she oozed confidence and a fighting spirit that I know will help her kick cancer’s butt! I thought about how cruel a hand she’d been dealt but that she was clearly surrounded by many loving and supporting friends and family.
I awoke the following morning to a lovely email from Sara (Jenny’s brother’s girlfriend who’d brought her down from Logan for the day) thanking me for my services and informing me that Jenny had kept her makeup on for her doctor’s appointment that day. She also told me that Jenny had mentioned having her hair and makeup professionally done was on her bucket list. Yep, that broke me. I had kept my shit together through the whole day but knowing that I had been able to help her live out a dream was such an amazing feeling that I couldn’t help but cry. THIS is why I do what I do. I had set out to make Jenny feel beautiful and special and I had clearly achieved my goal.
The entire experience was wonderful. The girls who arranged it and Jenny herself I can’t thank enough for allowing me to be a part of such a magical day. If Amy hadn’t tagged me in that Facebook post then I would never had had the priviledge of meeting this beautiful soul, this talented skater, this bubbly 16 year old with a zest for life. So to Amy THANK YOU!
To Jenny, I wish you all the love in the world and every success for your teatment…you’ve got this!!! You have a huge community behind you and I know that fighting spirit I saw in you will kick cancer’s butt!!!! After all this is over you’ll be able to look back at the gorgeous photos Erin has taken and say “Oh this was taken back when I had cancer and whooped it’s arse! I’m now stronger than ever and nothing will ever stand in my way.” The world is your oyster my dear and just like a Disney princess may you live happily ever after.
If you’d like to read more about Jenny’s story and donate to the Go-Fund-Me page that has been set up to help Jenny’s family with the medical costs please follow the link here: https://www.gofundme.com/jenny-schneiders-medical-fund