“What makes human beings so beautiful  is that we are imperfect, we’re limited, we’re never completely healed, we’re never completely cured – yet we are extraordinary at the same time.”

My childhood was spent in the service of my grandparents who were paralyzed by strokes; this heavily influenced my career path, and interest in becoming a holistic healer, serving others who had been compromised by disease or injury. Some years ago my journey led me to work with cancer patients after a dear friend was diagnosed. This role brought me contentment and I felt my best. I saw myself accomplished, managing my own business, being a mother and a wife, while also serving my community – while never realizing how thin I was spreading myself.
In October, my life took a very unexpected turn when after routine annual checkups I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer myself! My first reaction was…. I don’t have time for this, I can only focus on my current commitments. This one phone call initiated me through the darkest, toughest detour I had never imagined for myself, though I had confidently gone down with so many others before. Sometimes when you don’t make the time for yourself, the universe teaches you otherwise. This was the transformation of me finally having to take care of ME!
The last few months I have endured multiple tests, hospital visits, surgeries, complications, more surgeries, life threatening scares and thankfully eventually being able to call myself cancer free! As I look at the whirlwind the last year has been, I don’t have all the answers and I am not perfect; though, I will admit that in the past I have wanted all the answers and to appear perfect to any onlookers. Experiencing pain is not a comfortable feeling, and I have tried to avoid it from the fear of seeing my own vulnerable self. This journery takes you through intense physical pain through all the intrusive treatments, deep emotional pain when you feel so alone and scared, and overwhelming spiritual pain when you wonder, “Is it something I did that I am being punished for?” While I tried to run and hide from the experience of pain, it has actually shown me its own miracles, by teaching me the power of my faith and inner strength and our capacity to heal when we realize how much love and compassion we are surrounded by.

I have come to welcome pain from the past and the present. It is what makes me relate to others and offers a window into others’ worlds. Without pain, and if we only existed in the facade of “perfection” and joy, we lose the ability to empathize and help others – I am proud to now be a wounded healer! I watched so many of my patients march through this terrible nightmare with a brave face and determination. Now I see the whole picture! Through this THEY became my strength and gift! Now more than ever, I believe my purpose is to serve others and my service happens to come in the form of my story. 
 Shaheen, thank you so much for being apart of this project and being so vulnerable to share your journey with us! You are truly a light for the world and loved by so many! Thank you for allowing us to pamper you and capture you a during this time in your life!
Photography : Crystal Byrd Uqdah for Love Byrd Photo
Makeup: Blasina Salaam Ware 
Hair: Bilga Moka
Atlanta, GA

Based in Atlanta, Georgia