The Light That Shines: Showing Cancer Patients They’re Beautiful with Photos

Jill Conley was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31. Only six months into her marriage, she and her husband had to go through the horrors of chemo, radiation, a double mastectomy and a problematic reconstruction before she finally entered remission. Now 35, she has been diagnosed with incurable stage 4 bone cancer.

Photographer Sue Bryce was moved after hearing of Conley’s story, and offered Jill and her friends a trip to Paris. Bryce’s idea was to use her photographic talents to uplift Conley and cancer patients around the world. The documentary above, titled “The Light That Shines,” shows the beautiful work that resulted from that trip and the time the two women spent together (Warning: the video contains some strong images).


The documentary is heart wrenching, and will be particularly moving to those of you who have been affected by cancer in one way or another. At the same time, it’s incredibly uplifting to see a photographer use her art to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

As Conley’s friend Nikki puts it, Bryce’s dream was “to inspire other women to feel ok with their body whether they have any form of cancer or anything that has caused their body to look different from how society says [their] body should look.” In that she’s succeeded in spades.

The title of the project (“The Light That Shines”) is a further manifestation of that goal. To Bryce, beauty is “the light that shines out from inside you. When you hold someone’s gaze, you see it. Everybody has it, it is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” Clearly, she was able to capture that light in Conley’s eyes, and hopefully they together will inspire others to see it in their own.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Jon!

  • Margaret Waage


  • Monica Brou

    Beautiful and touching story

  • Adam Atkinson

    Now this is surreal. As I am typing this i am uploading a video on youtube on how today, 1.28.13, i shaved my girlfriends head after her first chemo therapy session today. She wanted to shave her head instead of losing it. She has stage 3a beast cancer and has to go through aggressive chemo for 4 months and today is day one. This is too weird.

  • Noah Sarid

    This is so beautiful, so touching. Thank you for doing this…and for sharing this with others.

  • Sback

    Absolutely amazing. I am a survivor who opted out of reconstruction and doesn’t wear prosthetics most days. Thank you for helping me feel beautiful again. My daughter is 33 and has been going through breast cancer treatment in Louisville for the past year in Louisville. We completely understand your journey and I will keep you in my prayers. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful spirit with us all.

  • Denise Baker Weber

    Just got back from the oncologist and decided to check my e-mail and drink a cup of coffee. This was the first thing I opened on fb. It wasn’t just a fluke….it was a gift. Jill is a beautiful woman with a beautiful story and beautiful pictures. God bless us all….

  • Teresa Anderson

    Incredibly touching and uplifting…Thanks to photographer Sue Bryce.for using art her to make such an incredible video to help all women, not just cancer survivors, to see themselves as they truly are. And a special thanks to Jill Conley for having the courage to share, You are TRULY beautiful.

  • Jonathan

    How is she? My uncle and dear friend’s wife are battling cancer right now.

  • Adam atkinson