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Eye on Strength Kicks Off!

Something great happened in late 2015. In October, photographer Reggy Stainfil founded Eye of The Survivor, an inspirational calendar dedicated to women who have battled breast cancer and survived. Together here we will applaud them, and we will learn from them.

Inspired by such resilient women, Reggy took his profession in photography to a deeper level, capturing strength at its best.

Welcome to his vision, an amazing project and an important cause. And welcome to our blog!

We hope you are all having a sizzling summer so far and we thank you for taking the time to check us out.

Debuting at the start of this year, our first and current calendar for 2016 features 13 survivors who volunteered their stories to encourage and inform others, raising awareness one month at a time.

Broadening Reggy's vision, our calendar has now extended to a website, social media, and this blog. We’re excited to expand and hope to inform you, move you, and most importantly, raise awareness about breast cancer.

Just a few things to come for our blog readers will be the intimate stories of our featured survivors, new scientific findings in breast cancer research, current events including nationwide fundraisers, and other hot topics and information related to breast cancer. We will examine breast cancer from understanding what the disease is to understanding all aspects of it from detection to treatment.

Since we have commenced our blog half way through 2016 let's meet some of our calendar girls who kicked things off.

Our inaugural girl, Carol Manning, carried us through January. Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer after post workout soreness prompted her to complete a self-examination. Self-exams and other methods of early detection are just some of the things we will discuss here. During her self-exam, Carol found a lump and contacted her doctor. Just months after her diagnosis, her mother passed away from ovarian cancer. She had also had breast cancer prior to that. A familial - or genetic - tie with breast cancer and ovarian cancer is one of the scientific topics we will chew on in future posts.

Like too many other women, Carol was forced to undergo a double mastectomy. But the message here is not one of defeat, instead it is of courage. It's in moving forward and facing the disease head on.When we met with Carol for our photo shoot, you'd never believe she's been through what she has, "I have so much to be thankful for," she told us. Carol, we are thankful for you!

One of the things we like to celebrate here at Eye of the Survivor is birthdays! Because each birthday indicates another year that cancer loses. We missed Carol’s birthday last month, so we would like to send a warm Happy Birthday her way!

In February we met an inspiring mother-daughter team of survivors, Migdalia and Jennifer Ewens who shared their story with us. Mom Migdalia was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy then had her ovaries removed because she learned she is a BRCA1 Gene carrier -- a scientific marker we will flesh out more in upcoming posts. Her daughter Jennifer was also afflicted with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. But when we met them for their shoot, we didn’t hear anything about being victims. Migdalia told us, "I am a survivor! My daughter is also a survivor." Migdalia, we couldn't agree more! Migdalia celebrated her birthday in April and Jennifer back in February, so overdue birthday hugs from us to each of you!

Betty Jean graced our March layout. Betty fought the disease for several years, including a partial then full mastectomy, chemo, radiation, and reconstructive surgery. Betty, like Carol and the Ewens, came out on the other side of not only their diagnoses and illness, but from treatment which too can be taxing. Betty's grateful to share her story. "If I can help someone as I pass along then my living will not be in vain." Definitely not Betty, we appreciate you!

In April we learned about Debby Stith, another strong woman who survived breast cancer but continues to fight as it has returned twice. But as a mom to three daughters, and a woman who's been through her share of life's disappointments, Debby’s no stranger to strength. She says her favorite phrase is: "Cancer may knock me around and some days it may even knock me down, but it will never knock me out."

It's that fighter spirit in Debby, and so many other breast cancer patients that leaves us awe-inspired.

Renda Darby McLurkin stood proud representing May. Renda's strong faith steered her through her bouts with breast cancer. "This life is a journey, and on the path, there will be stones to step on, bumps to ride over, potholes to maneuver, and mountains to either climb or command to move." Just another reminder of the resilience within each of these women.

Lastly, our June woman-of- the-month (and June baby – Happy Belated!) is Corey Ayala-Fagundez.

Noticing a change in the appearance of her breast, Corey went for a mammogram which in turn saved her life. She had inflammatory breast cancer. After a far too frequent triple action approach of chemo, radiation and a double mastectomy, one year later Corey became cancer-free. "The journey has been hard, but it has made me stronger, and made me feel as though I can withstand anything." You got that right Corey!

As you can tell we've already met some FIERCE females during the first half of 2016 but there's certainly more to come! Thank you for joining us in our journey of survival and inspiration. We hope you look forward to our blog as much as we look forward to keeping you informed and inspired.

Reggy got this ball rolling for us and we intend to keep that ball in play.

These women clearly have the eye of the survivor.

They’re hungry to beat breast cancer for good.... and so are we!!!!

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