Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a deadly disease that affects the lungs, liver, pancreas and intestines. Due to a defective gene, the body produces a thick mucus that clogs the lungs and causes severe lung infections. The mucus also wreaks havoc on the pancreas and does not allow the body to absorb vital nutrients. With new discoveries and technologies though, the life expectancy of CF patients have increased from the teens and twenties to the thirties and forties, but there is still no cure. It is still a life shortening disease.
Years ago, I sat and listened as a parent of one of my 4th graders told me about CF and how her beautiful little daughter, Eryne, would not be able to participate in certain physical activities due to her illness. My 22-year-old mind could not fathom how a seemingly healthy and sweet little girl could be so sick. I had the opportunity to photograph Eryne years later, and she was still as sweet and pretty as could be. Sadly, Eryne passed away earlier this year after a double lung transplant and almost a year in ICU. I watched Eryne’s fight in the photographs her mom shared on social media that showed the savage toll that CF took on her twenty-something-year-old body.
That is the basis for a new book project by photographer Ian Ross Pettigrew. A fashion, portrait and corporate photographer in Canada, Ian also suffers from cystic fibrosis. When his first book, a project titled, JUST BREATHE: Adults with Cystic Fibrosis, had a disproportionate number of women to men, someone jokingly commented that Ian’s project was “just turning out to be a bunch of hot chicks with CF” and this second project was born. Titled, SALTY GIRLS, because “people with CF have more chloride (salt) in their sweat than someone who does not have CF,” the project aims to show the bravery and beauty of women fighting this deadly disease and what it does to their bodies.
It took a huge amount of courage for me to be able to expose my body for Salty Girls. When I look at my body, all I see are my scars…I grew up being made fun of the scar that is on my stomach. That scar is from the first of many surgeries when I was just under a year old…And today, I take a stance… I will learn to appreciate, love, and nurture my body the way it should be….My scars tell a story of a triumph after every obstacle.
Ian has photographed 56 women thus far for the “Salty Girls” book and plans to photograph many more to encourage the younger generations battling CF that there is hope and a future due to advancements in treatment. He also hopes to inspire and educate those that are not familiar with cystic fibrosis.
To see more images of these inspirational women from the ‘Salty Girl’ project, check out Ian Ross Pettigrew’s website here.
CREDITS: Photographs by Ian Ross Pettigrew are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.
[Via Daily Mail]