Image: Double mastectomy patient Jill Brzezinski Conley
Courtesy Hailey Bartholomew

TODAY   |  February 07, 2013

Breast cancer patient’s inspiring photos go viral

In photos that have spread across the Internet, Jill Brzezinski-Conley, who is suffering from breast cancer, is seen taking part in a dreamlike Parisian photo shoot. She, her husband, and photographer Sue Bryce talk about why this shoot is so inspiring and the importance of showing that women with breast cancer are still beautiful.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> "today" on nbc. fashion shoot in paris that is inspiring people all around the world. the suspect, jill conley, a kentucky woman battling cancer who is out to prove that women with breast cancer can still feel beautiful and sexy. jill is with us now along with her husband and photographer. good morning. i'm going to say at the outset, i don't know if we can do justice to your story in four minutes. let's tree. at the age of 31, six months after you were married to bart you found out you had breast cancer . you've had chemo, radiation, double mastectomy. how are you feeling now?

>> today i feel awesome. i have good days and bad days . right now i'm feeling great.

>> started with photographs that actually a girlfriend of yours took. what was the purpose of the photograph?

>> when i went to seattle, i wanted her to take pictures of me, because i wanted before breast cancer , to turn them in. they don't ever show what breast cancer looks like. they talk about it but don't show it. i wanted her to take pictures of my breasts, so people can see what cancer looks like. i just wanted people to feel -- know that when you're going through it, before, after, that you can still be beautiful and sexy. that was my whole point of it.

>> let's be clear, these photographs are very raw and they are very real. that was kind of your purpose.

>> that was my purpose.

>> bart, what did you think about this project?

>> i mean, just amazing. before i found out that she had cancer, i had never seen it. i know so many men, even women haven't seen it. to me it's just shows how much courage she has but shows everybody how it's okay to be sick and be beautiful like that. i just think it's amazing.

>> something really wonderful happened. your friend got in touch with a very renowned portrait photographer. sue, you were giving these photos to critique them as a professor but obviously they touched you. what did you decide to do?

>> i was actually teaching a photography class live on a world broadcast and live in seattle. she contacted me, jill 's friend, and asked me to critique them. she writes on the e-mail that jill wanted to tell her story. i have quite an audience. so i thought, if i could just tell her story to my audience, maybe someone could write it and tell the story. then i met jill on skype and i just thought, i have to photograph her.

>> you did more than that. you said, i'm flying you to paris for this fabulous shoot. we've been showing some of these pictures. jill , what did that mean to you, to get to have this fairy tale ?

>> it was a dream come true. i told her in paris for five days i felt like cinderella. i didn't feel like a cancer patient , the way that her and the rest of the girls made me feel was unbelievable.

>> part of the photographs, also this documentary that was filmed, this 15 minutes . you can find it online. it's incredibly moving. once again, jill , you decided to bare all.

>> yeah.

>> was this a courageous thing to do?

>> no. i don't know, i wasn't. you know what, this is what god had a plan for me, and this is what i have. accept it and embrace it and be proud of it and rock it. so that's what i did, and that's what i'm still doing, so i wasn't.

>> you're a woman on a mission. that is for sure. what do you hope comes of this. you've had so many views of this video and these pictures. it's had this worldwide resonance. what do you want to happen?

>> i just want women and men all around the world just to feel confident with their body even if they don't have cancer. i just want to get the message out to women that if you're diagnosed tomorrow, already were diagnosed just to feel confident and beautiful and accept your body and embrace it.

>> i know you have a challenge for victoria secret , the runway show.

>> victoria secret if you're out there, call me. i would love to be able to, not me but any woman wear the million dollar bra and maybe victoria secret have a line for women going through cancer. right now it's very selective.

>> these photographs are so beautiful. i think what's really beautiful is you. bart, the love story we see in this documentary is amazing. we wish the best of luck to you. thank you for being here.