Grace and Molly's stories
Collaborating with David Allen for the designs of the stylers, ghd brought in two beautifully strong women to be the muse of this years limited edition collection - Grace Lombardo and Molly Weingart.
Confiding in ghd to tell their stories and celebrate their empowerment along with the 15th year anniversary of ghd's support of breast cancer charities across the globe, follow their journeys through incredible transformations.
Meet Grace Lombardo, the face of this year's ghd pink campaign. A 38 year old mother of three, living in Chicago.
In April 2016, Grace was diagnosed with breast cancer, going through a bilateral mastectomy. A year later, she trusted David to conceal her scars.
“By replacing my damaged and scarred skin with fine art, David gave me the ability to love my body.” - Grace
This is Molly Weingart, a 33-year-old woman living in Philadelphia training to be a Physical Therapist. Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, Molly was tattooed by Chicago-based tattoo artist David Allen on the shoot of the ghd pink campaign. She came to the shoot with her mother Deborah, who survived from breast cancer herself, 20 years ago.
“I didn’t expect or even believe that getting tattooed by David could make me feel beautiful again— it did—or that instead of feeling like a medical oddity, I would feel like I’m a walking piece of art and my body is the canvas.” - Molly
Around the time of my 32nd birthday, in January, I put a hand on my left breast and it felt strange. It was different from the other side-along the edge, parts of it felt hard and solid. I made a mental note to ask my doctor about it. On Friday, March 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm, I went to get a routine pap smear. I casually asked my Dr to do my breast exam - my mom is a breast cancer survivor. I have vivid memories of visiting her in the hospital, her thinning hair and exhaustion during chemo. However, when she was sick, I was young enough that I didn’t understand what cancer was - just that it was really awful, really hard, and impacted the whole family. As a result, having breast cancer has, or I guess, had always been one of my greatest fears. On some level, I think I thought that if I asked for the breast exam casually enough that nothing would be wrong with me. She did the exam and her brow furrowed, “We have to get you an emergency mammogram.” I started sobbing uncontrollably because at that moment, I knew in my gut I was sick.
On Monday, after a weekend of pacing, trying to not think, worrying, and doing yoga to continue trying not to think, my mom and I went for my mammogram, which you’re not supposed to need to start until you’re 40, maybe 35 at the earliest. It was one of the first times I have ever seen my mom cry in fear for me. She’s a tough, spunky, insightful, and loving woman. She is a rock for the world to lean on and is one of the most optimistic people I know.
She said amidst a tear, “I wish you didn’t have to go through this.” In her eyes, I saw our relationship shift from that of a mother and daughter to one of two adult women where one knows the path of pain ahead of the other. I hugged her and went to the bathroom where I could cry in private- that maybe if no one saw me crying, I could protect them from having to be afraid for me or to keep any of these surreal moments from being real. During the mammogram, my breast was squished, squeezed, and compressed to get images from multiple angles. The radiologist was incredibly kind and empathetic as she explained that the mammogram showed images which supported conducting further tests, which meant a biopsy the following day.
I hadn’t known that biopsies were so painful. I thought it would be just like a shot when you get a vaccine, but it felt more like someone stuck a straw into my breast and was trying to suck out the contents (sorry, that’s graphic). As a different radiologist than the one from the previous day closely examined images of my breast tissue, my mom sat there, holding my hand. At one point, I looked over at the ultrasound screen, which
displayed what the radiologist was seeing. I saw what looked like grapes on a stalk in black and white. I’d seen images like that before, somewhere on the internet or in a physiology lecture of what a tumor looks like.
I spent the rest of the week attempting to go to school. I was taking Neuroscience and Physics I in preparation for starting a Doctorate in Physical Therapy that fall. I don’t remember anything I learned that week. I ate a lot of ice cream with one of my friends. I went to yoga every single day. I taught a dance class. I went to dinner with my pseudo-older brother. I kept my phone in my hand at all times in case the doctor called with the results. That Friday, March 31, 2017, I’d just finished Neuroscience and gone to the bathroom before I got on the subway home. As I was washing my hands, the phone rang. It was the radiologist who had done the biopsy. I could barely hear her and was fumbling to figure out how to have this phone call in the midst of a busy college classroom building. In a calm, matter-of-fact tone, as if she was reporting on the weather, she told me that I had two types of cancer; DCIS and invasive ductal carcinoma.
The experience of having breast cancer left me feeling maimed and deformed. Every aspect of my femininity was attacked and somehow insulted. I lost both of my breasts and nipples. I harvested my eggs in case chemo made me infertile. I lost my hair. I felt covered in scars and revolting.
The impacts of getting tattooed by David keep rippling into my daily life in waves of healing that I couldn’t anticipate. Before I got the tattoo, I was so excited to not see scars when I looked down. The scars felt like a continuous reminder of what I had lost, what I would never be or do. Particularly when I was bending or folding during dance or yoga, I hated seeing the pucker and red bumpy lines of my scars peek out from a sports bra or slipping out along the straps of a bathing suit. I was excited to see something beautiful instead of destruction. I didn’t expect or even believe that getting tattooed by David could make me feel beautiful again— it did—or that instead of feeling like a medical oddity, I would feel like I’m a walking piece of art and my body is the canvas.