The Grace Project: Local mother featured in art exhibit honoring breast cancer survivors

Local mother featured in art exhibit honoring breast cancer survivors (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A unique art exhibit honoring breast cancer survivors opened in the Tri-State on Thursday.

The women who are part of the event have an important message to share with everyone.

The exhibit is called “The Grace Project,” and along with the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute, it's an exhibit designed to show the reality of breast cancer surgery and the full life you can have following it.

A survivor from Adams County is featured in the national exhibit. Her name is Angel McIlwain and she admits that she chose to share a particular picture as a lasting memory for her two children.

“I am a stage-four patient,” said local mom and breast-cancer survivor Angel McIlwain. “I want them to be ready so that when I die, they are not afraid. We're all alive, we are all alive now, and so just take what you have every day…”

The faces of the women in the photos show that every day is a gift.

Part of the goal of Grace Project Founder and Photographer Charise Isis is this:

“The Grace Project is a series of empowering portraits of women who have had mastectomy surgery, as the result of breast cancer,” said Charise.

More than 200 women affected by breast cancer have posed for Charise.

“My goal is to photograph 800, which is the number of women newly diagnosed in the United States every day, and eventually show them all together so you can see the impact of breast cancer in one day in America,” said Charise.

Dr. Elyse Lower of the UC Cancer Institute is a cancer specialist who says she supports the Grace Project.

“It really helps them to put this in perspective for the world and it enables them to go forward with life,” said Dr. Lower.

Dr. Lower admits that it is not a traditional exhibit you would see in a traditional gallery, but she says it’s important to send a powerful message about those who are overcoming breast cancer.

Those viewing the exhibit say when a woman stands in front of a camera and permits her body to be photographs, scars and all, she's also sending a very deep message to herself about self-acceptance.

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