By: S Holmes | www.stonesdetroit.com
When my friend asked me if I wanted to do a story about Jill, my immediate response was, “I’d be honored”. My second thought was that I didn’t want to let Jill down. I wanted to do my absolute best to convey the message that Jill is working so hard to pass on to others.
I went to high school with Jill, we weren’t close friends but we ran in the same circle. There are two things that I remember most about Jill. The first is that she is beautiful, that special kind of glowing beautiful that one cannot achieve with make up or beauty products. While Jill is a natural beauty that is not what was most impressed upon me. I was struck, even more, by Jill’s personality. She always seemed to be genuinely pleasant. She had an effervescent quality that never seemed artificial and she always had a smile on her face.
As many, many years have passed us by, I had no idea what Jill has been going through. Thanks to social networks, I have learned more about Jill’s story and the fact that her character and strength are an inspiration.
As I sit here trying to find the words to describe Jill’s fight, I struggle. I struggle because I’m not sure that there are words powerful enough to recount Jill’s journey. I struggle because words like selfless and driven aren’t quite strong enough to describe Jill’s unbreakable attitude.
Jill was diagnosed with stage III invasive breast cancer one day before her 32nd birthday. After years of fighting and being told that she was in remission, Jill has developed incurable bone cancer. When most people hear the word cancer they conjure up a mental image. Maybe it comes from personal experience or from a picture that they scrolled by in their news feed. Many of us don’t think about cancer patients’ self-esteem. Women who have lost their hair or have gone through a double mastectomy are often left feeling less than. In today’s society, we are constantly being told what is “beautiful”. It’s everywhere and some of the time it’s not even real. Jill wants to reach out to others that are suffering and to tell them that they are beautiful, they are exquisite, they are dazzling just the way that they are.
I want to help Jill get her story out. Australia’s photographer of the year for 2011, Sue Bryce, heard of Jill’s story and took her to Paris for a photo shoot. The photo shoot led to this beautiful documentary. Please take 20 minutes of your time and share it everywhere that you can. Most everyone has been affected by cancer one way or another, by sharing this video you could be helping someone get through their day.
Thank you Jill Brzezinski-Conley, keep smiling your beautiful smile.
To read another story about Jill, click here.
Photo By: Sue Bryce