After a breast cancer diagnosis in April, Charlie Johnson found a way to celebrate her strength. Charlie, a registered nurse from Gillham, Arkansas, and her husband, Kelsey, enlisted the help of lifestyle photographer Mandy Parks in between rounds of chemotherapy. Mandy illustrated the couple’s journey through poignant photos, which have now gone viral.
In the pictures, Charlie sits in front of a bureau with Kelsey by her side. Eventually, he is seen shaving her hair as she cries – an impactful idea suggested by the photographer.
“We started talking about doing this photoshoot and I said, ‘Why don’t you be the one who takes your hair, not cancer?” Mandy told People. Charlie and Kelsey were on the same page, and wanted other women to find “hope or empowerment” through her decision to part with her hair on camera. In other photos, Charlie stands tall wearing pink boxing gloves, a symbol of her approach to the fight ahead.
“Strong women aren’t simply born. They are made by the storms they walk through. From the pain, mistakes, and heartache we achieve pride and strength,” Mandy wrote when she shared the photos on Facebook. “I don’t know who needs to see this today. Or yesterday. Or someone you know might get this phone call tomorrow. Show them what strength looks like. Let them know they are not alone. Stand by them as they kick this like the warrior they are!”
The Johnson family has a GoFundMe campaign (set up by a friend) to assist Charlie, Kelsey, and their three children through this challenging time.