Underwater Project Helps Cancer Survivors Rediscover Their Beauty

Nicki Curns Kominek, Hodgkin's Disease Survivor

San Francisco-based photographer Erena Shimoda combined her love of scuba diving and photography with the therapeutic properties of water for cancer patients in a beautiful portrait project known as Underwater Healer – About Face. By launching an Indiegogo campaign last year, Shimoda was able to fund her passion project, allowing her to offer 10 cancer survivors along the west coast of the US and parts of Canada their own healing underwater portrait sessions.

Shimoda's ongoing sessions allow these survivors and life-loving fighters to overcome their physical insecurities and reflect on their own innate beauty as they poetically submerge themselves. The photographer says, “Underwater portrait sessions provide an unique opportunity for people to confront physical and mental challenges – things such as feeling lost after a mastectomy and chemotherapy, fear of water, or physical limitations due to cerebral palsy. In the water, people rediscover their beauty, strength and capability. I love seeing my clients' glowing faces and smiles when they see their photographs. One person said she felt ‘magically beautiful.' “

Izumi Hirayama, Breast Cancer Survivor

Duwenavue Sante' Johnson, Breast Cancer Survivor

Emily Morrison, Brain Tumor Fighter

Lindsay Hernderson, Breast Cancer Survivor

Lori Stone, Endocervical Adenocarcinoma Survivor

Lisa Smith, Breast Cancer Survivor

Mailet Lopez, Breast Cancer Survivor

Bernadette Leno, Breast Cancer Survivor

Erica Yee, Breast Cancer Survivor

Brian Simpson, Testicular Cancer Survivor

Steve Melen, Stomach Cancer Survivor

Underwater Healer website
Erena Shimoda website
via [Laughing Squid]


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content