Suite HOPE Founder Jeanna Doyle offers a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot that shaped Suite HOPE and serves as the website’s cover story.
I had not known my good friend Ruth for very long when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t sure what I could do for her or how I could help, and I came to the realization that not many people in that situation do. I knew I wanted to express my friendship and show Ruth my love and support. As a makeup artist with more than 20 years of experience, I decided I would ask her if she wanted to do a photo shoot of herself and her breast before her mastectomy changed both.
To my surprise, Ruth not only agreed but said she had been considering it herself but didn’t know how to make it happen. Like every woman facing surgery for cancer, Ruth had so many things she needed to do. The very act of scheduling a photo shoot would be very overwhelming for Ruth to put together on her own. I was so relieved that my suggestion was taken in the spirit I intended. I immediately called Tim Boole, a longtime friend and amazing photographer with whom I have worked for years. Tim graciously agreed to help us. I really wanted to give Ruth the uplifting and empowering experience. I knew that the lights, camera and action of Tim’s studio would provide that for her.
The shoot took place only days before Ruth’s surgery. I did her hair and makeup while her favorite music blared in the background and Tim set up the lights. It was just the three of us that afternoon. To this day, Ruth’s photo shoot remains one of my favorites. Although the reason for the session was a sobering one, the mood that day was one of celebration. Tim, Ruth and I were all there for the same reason: to honor Ruth and glorify the very symbol of her femininity. I wanted to give her the experience of being one of the many beautiful cover models Tim and I have worked with over the years. With fans blowing and lights flashing, that is exactly what we what we did. The results speak for themselves. (See cover shot and accompanying story.)
Shortly after Ruth’s surgery, I helped Ruth pick out a wig. I have a long history of working in corrective makeup, skincare and wigs. Helping Ruth was an absolute pleasure. In fact, I found the process so rewarding that it brought me back to an idea I’ve had for almost 20 years to create an educational and esthetic support system for women undergoing cancer treatment.
In the weeks and months following my experience with Ruth, I considered the advice my friends, and now Suite HOPE contributors, Dr. Carolyn Muller and RN, MSN, OCN. Kathy Maddocks gave me. The advise was to combine my love of makeup with the joy I have working with patients. The experience of helping my friend Ruth coupled with the guidance and support of Carolyn, Kathy and countless other friends gave me the courage to start Suite HOPE.
When I offered to help Ruth, I had no idea her photo shoot would turn out to be the cover, feature and launch story for Suite HOPE. At that time, Suite HOPE didn’t exist beyond a rough outline in my mind. I merely took the talents I have and offered them to support a friend in need. In return, I rediscovered my own passion. I urge you to do the same.