a woman in a yellow dress with floral neckline standing in front of photos set on easels

Serendipity: The Gift

At The Foundation for Living Beauty, we believe in serendipity. The kind that brings creative minds together at coffee shops, or, as it were, brings Living Beauties together – 40,000 feet in the air.

Debbie at The Gift event

When photographer Cynthia Perez first approached the foundation’s staff as they met in a cozy Pasadena hole in the wall, the universe had truly conspired. The staff had been dreaming and designing a photo series to showcase the bravery and courage of Living Beauties, particularly through their physical scars. Meanwhile, Cynthia was looking for a new project, hopefully one that would allow her to give back after considerable success in the photography community. A match made by fate.

Over the next few months, the women designed more than a photo project – they designed an experience that enriched Cynthia as much as it did the subjects in her photos. The brave Living Beauties, in fact, were more than still subjects. They were engaged, courageous and healing women, who bore both their bodies and their souls: Some were still working through the changes that cancer had presented and participated in hopes of closure and self-acceptance; Others took part in the project in order to share their stories with other women who might have questions about certain procedures or experiences, including mastectomies. Despite the highly personal, intimate nature of each photo session, the Living Beauties were forming incredible bonds even they could not predict. Together, they got to the root of not only cancer’s difficulties and challenges – they also found its unexpected gifts.


In preparation for The Gift, a cocktail event introducing the photo series at Pasadena’s Armory Center, the staff interviewed many Living Beauties who had participated in the photography project. Cynthia had generously traveled across the country to photograph Living Beauties, and one Living Beauty in New York was still debating whether or not to fly across the country and celebrate her photos in person. After speaking with our staff on the phone about the experience, Kim felt a fire in her soul. She had to be there, and immediately booked a flight.

‪As she sat on her flight to California, Kim began speaking with a bubbly, kind flight attendant. When the flight attendant asked what brought Kim to California, Kim explained that she had participated in a photo project through a foundation for women with cancer. The flight attendant’s name was Debbie. Incredibly, the two women had never met, but Debbie was also a Living Beauty. And she was flying to The Gift.

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