Testimonials

"Jean Karotkin is one of the most original, talented, and unique photographers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. When she approached me ten years ago, to be in her book “Body and Soul”, and take a picture of me bald with my family, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I found was a woman with a kind heart, a keen eye, and compassionate spirit.

I was bald from chemo, married to an Air Force fighter pilot, the mother of a young girl, a news anchor and a Christian. With one phenomenal picture, she captured all of it. One picture, one beautiful picture, tells the world the story of my life while battling breast cancer.

She made my whole family feel so at ease and comfortable with the photo session. That is not an easy task when dealing with a pasty white chemo patient, and a two-year-old little girl, but she did it with grace and ease.

I found a friend for life from one photo session. Jean cares about not only the finished product but also the process of capturing the perfect picture. Her talent is tremendous, but she remains humble, and always makes her subjects feel important."

-- Leslie Mouton, San Antonio, TX

 

 

"Being a part of your book was an extraordinary experience for me. Just to look at the pictures of all these women, and to know that we all shared something in common, but didn't know each other, and our struggle to survive, was really a life experience. I am one of the lucky ones--I have been "clean" for 12 years, and plan on continuing to do so, but because of this book, I am much more conscious of women and men with breast cancer, and try to do everything I can in my power to be part of trying to find a cure. The friendship that you and I have made has been one of the most positive experiences for me, and I so look forward to continuing our conversations, and making sure that women all over the world will get a chance to read this book and know that there is hope to be had."

-- Barbara Flood, New York, NY

 

 

"Who'd think a chance encounter could lead to my being in a book and people hearing my story via internet across the world? I have used the book as a tool to show where I was and where I am now. Sadly, many of my friends have had to walk a similar journey since mine. Last January was my 25th anniversary with the Dallas Police Department. I am currently working in patrol on evenings in Oak Cliff, something I haven't done since 1992. My girls are doing fine, one is starting her second year at Texas Woman's University and the other is going into the 8th grade. We will be hosting our 4th exchange student this fall."

-- Laura Beattie, Dallas, Texas

 

 

 

 

"It was an honor to be included in Jean’s book - and so special to be with my Mom. She loved that picture. Mom passed away in July of 2008. Interesting enough, what saved her life also contributed to her death. She developed scar tissue to her heart, from the inside, due to the radiation she had for her cancer. However, that radiation gave her 40 extra years!

I have my copy of the book on my coffee table. It’s looking a bit worn from all the times it’s been picked up and flipped through. Everyone who sees it is touched by your photos and the incredible stories. I think about all the women photographed in the book and often wonder how many are still here and how many have died since then. Most people who know me know my story, yet they’re still surprised to see me in the book. When my Mom died, I can’t remember who took her copy of the book. I’m thinking I should make sure I give a copy to each of my daughters and my siblings. I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me before!"

-- Marcia Levine, Dallas, TX

 

 

"I wanted to share that I am one of the survivors and that Breast Cancer did not make me a victim.  It did not define me. I have a picture gallery of black and white photographs in my hallway. Every time I pass my picture it makes me smile, almost as much as the black and white I have of Eleanor Roosevelt. After the book was published I felt so honored to be included with some of the incredible women in the book. The low point was getting an email from you when one of the women had died. I went home and looked her up. There she was pictured with her two beautiful young daughters. I had a good cry that night. I have always felt so fortunate to have been 56 years old when I was diagnosed and my children were grown."

-- Peggy Perry, Austin, TX

 

 

"Now that I look back, having been diognosed 20 years ago it seems that it was the 'NEW BEGINNGS', in my life that made the experience so meaningful:

The need to give more of myself to others who needed me in the different volunteer work I began to undertake. The knowledge that I could overcome my fears by being more informed about all my doubts. Being able to accept love in a more open way and give it back more generous way. These are only a few of the wonderful beginnings that have come to me thru the past years and I look forward to many more.

Jean was a beginning for me in a very special way. She help to introduce me to another me, for at the time the picture was taken I had not let myself admit that my 'bubbles' had burst. Instead, I had put on a very stoic self and if you look closely at my face you can clearly see what I mean. I 'Posed,' and I think Jean knew it and caught that side of me.  Now, if you would take the same picture, there would be no bubbles and my face would not be so set... For time and life have given me a new presence, one I am much prouder of."

-- Bitsy Proler

"The significance of the portrait you made of me is the timing along my breast cancer journey.  I know now that when you shot this photo, I was beyond all my intense treatment - standard chemotherapy, radiation, bi-lateral mastectomy with TRAM reconstruction, metastatic diagnosis, autogolus stem cell transplant...A LOT of treatment between age 30 and 33.  In the portrait, my hair is grown in so I don't look like a chemo patient, my new reconstructed body is slightly revealed, I am being represented as a limber dancer and a healthy, strong woman!  Emotionally I was still feeling vulnerable and fragile and yet, even years later when I glance at that portrait I see such strength and determination.  Even though I was through 'the woods', there were and still are ups and downs, fears, concerns, emotional and physical setbacks.  This portrait is a wonderful reminder to me of the strength and determination that brought me through some very tough times, even when I felt the weakest and most vulnerable."

-- Susan Rafte, Houston, TX

 

 

I feel strong when I help someone else to feel strong.

Having Jean Karotkin take my portrait during my journey with breast cancer was not only strengthening for me during a difficult period in my life, but the portrait also served as an avenue for me to share that strength with others who were also going through similar times.

I walked into M. D. Anderson for my photo session, fully clothed in an outfit I thought would look nice for my picture…including a short, sassy wig on my head.  Jean asked me if I would mind changing into a hospital gown and removing my wig.  This picture was for the whole world to see!  This picture turned a “photo” into a story, and is one of the most memorable times in my life!

The finished portrait and the entire interview process gave me inner acceptance of my outward self.  Being comfortable in our own skin is not easy for all of us at times, especially when so many changes are taking place all at once.  The portrait makes me proud of not only battling cancer, but also for showing the world that if I could do this, then so could they.  My network of family and friends were extremely supportive of me and encouraged me daily.  They are very proud to see the good God brings out of the bad situations in life and are also happy to be able to watch me share my survival story with the world.

Hope, strength, struggles, frustrations, happiness, calmness, peace…all of these are some of the vast characteristics of a survivor’s story.  Jean is genuinely concerned, and has a comforting approach to capturing these stories that can be shared with the world.  I feel that she really portrays “the big picture.”  I know this experience helped me in my journey through cancer, and these memories I have will last a lifetime.

-- Donna Dohmann