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‘Salty Girls’ – An Inspirational Photo Series Featuring Women With Cystic Fibrosis

By Hanssie on April 28th 2015

Ian-ross-pettigrew-salty-girls-3Cystic 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.

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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]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Cristian Corvalán

    Every photo show a story. Really good set.

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  2. Jason Boa

    Very powerful , exactly what photography should be about telling stories, educating and inspiring others

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  3. Chanelle Hunt

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this article! My 13 year old daughter has Cystic Fibrosis and Asthma. She has a GJ feeding tube just like the beauty on the front cover of Ian’s book. Right now she’s on 13 different meds along with utilizing 4 different machines to assist in increasing her lung function, breathing and delivering meds. What a phenomenal way to ease my baby’s fears and show her that she can do this, this book will make her proud!

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    • Hanssie

      Thank you for sharing your story! I’m glad that this series has reached you and I know Ian would be glad to know that his project has touched someone!

      Best of luck to you!

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  4. Thomas Horton

    Wow. Talk about a thought provoking series.

    I am reminded of the song “The Promise” By Olivia Newton-John, which in part has

    “If I can only make one man aware
    One person care
    Then I’ll have done what I promised you”

    The best of luck with your project.

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