Our gift to you, was a gift to us all.

My chest felt trapped in a moment of love, family, and triumph. I watched, teary eyed, and throat stricken two sisters, embrace in a hug through sheer fabric, and hold hands. Their love… unconditional, unbroken, and powerful. I got to witness this and be a part of their story. Our gift to you, was a gift to us all.

To Shawna (above left) and Gemma (above right),

I didn’t know that when Cheyenne Gil Photography and Polished for Pennies were donating our services to that Breast Cancer walk that we’d get to meet you. We never knew who would win our “Stylized Photo-shoot” basket, but just when you think things happen at random, they really happen for a reason. I didn’t know our gift to you, would end up being a gift to us.

Style wise, we wanted to drape you in warrior decadence. Make you feel strong, willful, courageous, and most importantly, unified. Just as you fought together, in Shawna’s battle with Breast Cancer as it began in 2007. It was important to us, a blog based around sisters, to draw out your individual personalities…

Softness in Shawna…

Fiercity in Gemma…

But keep you both still sisters. And one unified front.

After our first meeting, you told us that you both had lost your mom to breast cancer in 2001, and we wanted to honor that and her. So where did we go for your dressings? Well, mamma knows best. We ransacked Mama Woodill’s closet and found you some amazing gowns to honor your mother from our mother. We felt it was important to have this moment, your photoshoot, be and feel as close to family as possible, and we hope you felt that.  I didn’t know our gift to you, would end up being a gift to us.

But no photo shoot would be complete without the bling, so keeping it in the family, how perfect was it that just magically your cousin Desiree Conston, was an accessories designer, willing to create handcrafted pieces for you both to be adorned within the shoot? It was plainly perfect and meant to be. Desi’s ornately beaded head wear, and sculpted shoulder pieces were both special and purposeful. Her belts and earrings made sense and made the shoot feel alive. I didn’t know our gift to you, would end up being a gift to us.


Just so you know, the shoot wasn’t about fashion, a gift basket, or a sunny afternoon,  it was about you two. Your love. Simply love. P4P was moved beyond expectations at the sight of both of your beauty, not just on the outside but on the inside. You both came alive in spirit and made this shoot a declaration of constant family ties, strength in numbers, a unified front, having confidence, and standing proud as women. Sisters. Survivors.

As Cheyenne, Cristi, Desi, and me observed you both in this natural environment, it was only natural that the power of you two sisters, made these photos what they are. A gift to us, to give to this world and bring awareness to breast cancer, and the stories of courage and beauty that lie behind the camera and the breast.

We love you both and here’s to many more years of laughter, love, and sisterly affection!


Polished for Pennies

*Check out Cheyenne Gil, Shawna, Gemma, and Vittoria on Talk Philly on CBS3 as they talk about the makings of the shoot, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month!


Photography: Cheyenne Gil Photography

Styling: Polished for Pennies’ Vittoria & Cristi Woodill

Makeup: Polished for Pennies

Jewelry: Cousin Desi


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