All photos by Dave Burgess
Created in the fall of 2016 by photographer Dave Burgess with henna artists Amanda Gilbert and Steve Stone, Crowns of Courage challenges traditional beauty standards by highlighting what one might hide beneath hats, scarves, and wigs: hair loss due to side effects from chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Pictured here are five of these fighters—embracing their baldness and celebrating their will, strength, and beauty. The project was displayed at ArtPrize 9 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mindy Koert, 34, is a survivor of stage III breast cancer. She wears her crown with pride because, as she says, “Strangely, this trial has brought me more growth and joy than any other struggle in my life.”
Lisa Parmesang, 49, was diagnosed with uterine cancer after doctors found a tumor during hysterectomy surgery. About Crowns of Courage she says, “A great thank you […] for giving women back what seemed lost. Their beauty, their joy, their optimism… and some peace.”
After nearly four years battling brain cancer, Tessa Prothero passed away in June 2017 at the age of nine. She loved to dance, sing, and spend time with friends and family.
According to Crowns of Courage, “[Tessa] was wise beyond her years and had a love of life like no other.”
Lizz Grams was diagnosed with aggressive and rare synovial sarcoma when she was 35-weeks pregnant. Her son was delivered at 36 weeks, and is now two years old. Lizz passed away in July 2018.
Donia Robertson, 38, was a model before she was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer
in early 2017. “I’m just grateful I’m still living and here to share my story,” Donia says.