These Breast Cancer Survivors Did a Body Paint Photo Shoot and the Results Are Beyond Empowering

Photo: Casey Fatchett

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Marquina Iliev-Piselli organized a body paint photo shoot for herself and other survivors, and the results are vibrant, artistic, and empowering. Iliev-Piselli produced a similarly glamorous shoot last year and plans to do two a year in conjunction with the help of the New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Breast Center.

“[Breast cancer] makes you look at your body in a new way, a body that you hadn’t looked at in awhile, or if you did, you were critical. But you weren’t critical this time,” Iliev-Piselli told People. “Having something beautiful done, and looking at your body and accepting it is very important.”

Photo: Casey Fatchett

Iliev-Piselli, a book marketer, is in remission and hopes to devote her time to helping other women battling breast cancer to remain positive, upbeat, and hopeful. “I don’t dread going to the hospital, but a lot of people do, so I’ll go back, and I’ll be the one who supports others,” she says.

For the photoshoot, which was done by photographer Casey Fatchett, each woman got to choose a design that was meaningful to her to have painted on her body. There was a rose, a dragon, and a phoenix rising from the ashes. Each woman took between two and three hours to paint, though according to Iliev-Piselli, the conversations they had during this time was one of the best parts of the experience.

Photo: Casey Fatchett

“I didn’t realize that having an open room where everyone was painted together would be like a therapy session,” she admits. “There were women who hadn’t ever talked about their cancer to other survivors. That ended up being one of the more powerful moments.”

This year's Breast Cancer Awareness Month has spawned several similarly empowering initiatives, including one by Lonely Lingerie, which saw survivors posing in lingerie to help spread awareness. Another shoot, produced by the Stand Up to Cancer campaign, showcased women in various stages in their battle with cancer posing candidly with mastectomy scars.