I first learned about Jill Conley through the beautiful photography series by portrait photographer Sue Bryce, and the documentary ‘The Light That Shines’ – by film-maker/photographer Hailey Bartholomew.
I wish I’d had someone like Jill in my life early on to help me focus on what was truly important in life as a young woman. Jill once tweeted, “Be confident and kind. These qualities are the essence of real beauty, which nothing can erase.” Like me, Jill was diagnosed the first time with breast cancer in her 30’s. I understand her sorrow at not being able to have children, and having disfiguring surgery at a young age that mastectomy with complications brings. She was able to embrace her scars and the changes cancer made to her body. “She never liked wearing prosthetics in her bra, or wigs on her head. She said early on: “I choose to be who I am — to be beautiful.” I struggled with the deformity and scars, and for years loathed the daily reminders of cancer on my body. Jill’s goal was to help women know cancer and their bodies do not define them, and to help educate women about breast cancer. Those are some of my goals now as well through this blog.
Through faith, hope, and love, she channeled her difficult cancer experience into something redemptive. She also founded a cancer charity, Jill’s Wish, to provide financial assistance to those with breast cancer, newly diagnosed or terminal breast cancer patients, who struggle to pay everyday living expenses. She had hope in this life and in the next — “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Rev 21:4
Jill spent part of her last week discussing faith with journalist Laura Ungar, who stated that “Brzezinski-Conley said she no longer feared death. Brzezinski-Conley reportedly told Ungar that it “feels good” knowing she would see God, and added “there will be no pain or anything.” – Chris Serico, TODAY Health & Wellness
Jill died this week. Her mother, Rosemary Duchon said ” She went peacefully” and is now free of pain.