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My name is Jenica. I’m 41 years old. I was born in San Francisco and raised in Redwood City, CA.
Cancer type, brief history and the current status?
I was diagnosed with Stage III invasive lobular carcinoma at 37. I was confirmed to have the BRCA2 gene in my early 20s. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemo, and 25 rounds or radiation. In addition, due to many complications I ended up having 11 surgeries those first 23 months. I had my last surgery in December of 2019. Due to these surgeries I was mostly forbidden to swim for the better part of two years.
Why did you want to be involved in Underwater Healer About Face?
Though Instagram and friend’s pages I kept seeing Erena’s images pop up. I knew when I was able to get back in the water that I wanted to do these pictures.
How were you feeling about underwater before the photo shoot?
I have been swimming my whole life, but I knew this would still be a challenge. I was a bit nervous, but knew Erena would help me feel comfortable.
How was the experience with underwater portrait session?
Frankly, it was MUCH harder than I expected (naively). Because we’re during the pandemic and amid California fire season, getting outside and working out has not been a priority. I did find myself getting tired toward the end, but still got some really great shots! I did get A LOT of water up my nose! It wasn’t uncomfortable, just different than what I was used to! I am rather heavy right now and I had a hard time keeping my legs toward the bottom of the pool, but that ended up making some of my favorites.
How was your mood after you finished?
I was pooped! I was also very anxious to see how my pictures would turn out. I was in a bit of a daze from the fatigue and holding my breath over and over. Sort of like after a really hard workout.
What does WATER means to you? Do you think this experience could help overcoming your trauma?
I have always had a great respect for the water. As a kid, I was definitely a “water baby,” but as I grew I began to see the water as something to be respected. Then, as a mother of two boys with my body in various shapes and sizes, I found myself staying out more and more, for fear of judgment about my body. That all changed after cancer. I will no longer hide my body for the comfort of others and one of the ways I do that is by putting on a bikini (or not!) and jumping in with my kids.
How did you sleep the night of the photo shoot? Compare to the usual days?
I slept the same.
How was Erena working with you?
Erena is obviously such an amazing soul. She is patient, kind, and helpful. She certainly had more confidence in my abilities than I did!
Would you recommend underwater transformation to other survivors or anyone?
Not only would I, I already have!
BTS shots by @thaths
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