Jessica Geneva Florence thought she was just like any other 22-year-old. She was a college student, majoring in architecture, and liked spending time with friends and family. However, her normal college-girl life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Would you believe this was me a year ago?!? Well it is…It took a lot for me to post this but did you notice that smile?! I want to tell you that this was not the most beautiful journey I don’t look like this anymore but you have to embrace the struggle !!… I was stage 3A, HER2+, taking the chemo drugs (taxotere , herceptin, perjeta, and carboplatin) through chemotherapy I did 6 rounds every 3 weeks and I was sick all the time, I couldn’t keep food down, the nausea was unbearable, not to mention the medicine makes you feel insane and crazy !! My face broke out in open sores from all the medicine ..I cried everyday for months because I couldn’t stand to look at myself and how ugly I looked! Make sure you tell your breast cancer survivor she is beautiful if she a female ! Males you are handsome because they get breast cancer too ! Don’t let this part in your journey get you down it is only temporary ! God will always see you through ! BEFORE & AFTER big shouts to @jefferyk_ on the camera and @iamkayponds for the hair ! Please tag my MUA #cancersucks #breastcancerawarness #breastcancer
A post shared by F I G H T W I T H J E S S (@geneva_la_jade) on Nov 2, 2017 at 10:10am PDT
“My cancer was not genetic; I have no family history,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “As a young woman diagnosed at 22 I was told that I was too young to have cancer — but sure enough, I did.”
FIRST OF ALL … My name is Jessica Geneva Florence. I am now 24 years old, and I survived , better yet SLAYED breast cancer! Death to this silent monster!!! I am finally putting you to rest. Today I had my last treatment and it feels so amazing to reach the finish line !! When I was diagnosed at the age of 22, I never thought I would ever feel like the same woman I was before I lost the only thing I knew, made me a woman. To the freedom and liberation I feel is like no other .You constantly battle that feeling of being pretty and hideous as if you're the monster who killed the only you you knew. Big shouts to @ihartericka because it is most definitely a lonely personal battle..she inspires me to not be afraid to get out there and love again , and most importantly to love who I am , what I've endured, and who I will be come. October has come to an end yet we feel this is the only time to bring awareness and support breast cancer. We will honor ALL fighters and ALL survivors year round ! We will not be celebrated for just one month ! #breastcancerawareness #nemosnaps #cancersucks #mastectomy #expanders #melaninpoppin #breastcancer #breastimplantremoval - @nemosnaps Thanks for this amazing vision and creation ❤️
A post shared by F I G H T W I T H J E S S (@geneva_la_jade) on Oct 31, 2017 at 5:33pm PDT
After undergoing treatment, Florence, now 24, was declared cancer-free just a few days ago. To celebrate, she decided to do a topless photo shoot that showed her mastectomy scars.
The Florida resident contacted photographer Nehemiah Nash to help her create awareness and feel empowered at the same time.
Nash, 21, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Jessica wanted to use this platform to fully illustrate her struggles. Although she has shared her images of her journey before, we wanted to take a more transparent route.”
Nash choose to edit the pictures with a dark undertone as a metaphor for Florence’s physical and mental battle.
“It took much strength and courage to show her scars to the world; her fight with breast cancer has left internal scars no one will be able to see,” he says. “She went through those dark moments, but she did not let cancer take away her smile or charm.”
Florence shares that her toughest moments were when she would look in the mirror and see how the chemotherapy had transformed her into a different person, someone she didn’t recognize.
“I had no hair, eyebrows, black nails and toes; my face was covered in open sores due to all the chemo. I was unrecognizable,” she says. “You feel like cancer and chemotherapies create a monster out of you.”
Her inspiring story has now gone viral. Although Florence wrote on Instagram that at one point, “I never thought I would ever feel like the same woman I was before,” she is now in a better place and is encouraging other cancer patients not to give up.
“Those who are still fighting should try to laugh, cry, smile, and do everything in your power to create your own positive energies, whether it is hanging with friends and family, exercising or picking up new hobbies,” she says. “All of these factors contribute to healing in the mind, body, soul, and spirit.”
She urges women — and men — of all ages to do self-exams and get mammograms regularly. “Early detection saves lives,” she says.
Florence is now back in school to finish her architecture degree and is excited to get back to her normal life.
“The most important thing I do with my life now would be simply enjoying it and sharing my story with others,” she says. “Life is not promised to anyone, so live every day like it’s your last. ”
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