Calendar campaign empowers young women battling cancer

PHILADELPHIA - July 11, 2013

It's a calendar campaign called "Love Twelve," started by a California-based photographer - and it features four cancer survivors from Philadelphia.

On Thursday, I met "Miss October."

34-year-old Kelly DeVose is one of four Philadelphia women pictured striking a pose inside the Mount Airy Art Garage.

12 women total, all young adult cancer survivors, will be featured in next year's 1940s pin-up-themed "Love Twelve" calendar.

Photographer Tracy Birdsell got the idea after she beat breast cancer herself at age 29.

"I wanted to create something that is fun and inspiring and life-affirming, especially for young women ages 18 to 40 going through cancer," said Tracy.

Tracy says young cancer survivors often face different challenges than older survivors.

Kelly was 32 when she diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

"Chemotherapy, mastectomy, reconstructive surgery… it was a long road, a hard road," she said.

Kelly tells me she had to make decisions about career, marriage and kids earlier than she had planned.

But two years later and now cancer-free, she looks and feels stronger and more confident than ever.

And that is what Tracy aims to capture in order to support and empower more young women battling all kinds of cancer.

"I especially wanted to do a calendar because it can be on your walls to be a reminder to go out and live every day, week, month to your fullest," said Tracy.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel," said Kelly. "I had to tell myself that plenty of times. But there is a light you have to go through to get through."

This is an ongoing project. "Love Twelve" has also started a website for survivors.

The calendar goes on sale in October. All proceeds go back to the campaign and to other cancer support programs.


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