Stephanie Byram was an active, athletic young woman entering the prime of her life. But a few short weeks after her thirtieth birthday she was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of breast cancer - Stage IIIb infiltrative ductal carcinoma. Within two months she underwent a double mastectomy. Doctors gave her a 50 percent chance of surviving five years. Over the next eight years, however, she completed her Ph.D., ran in thirty Susan G. Komen Races for the Cure, fell in love, got married, and bought a house. She also traveled to London, Tibet, and Hawaii; rang in the millennium atop the Great Barrier Reef; hiked the thirty-five-mile Inca trail to Machu Picchu on her honeymoon; and visited the Grand Canyon mere months before her death in June 2001. During this time she was rarely cancer-free, suffering recurrences that were progressively more invasive and damaging to her body. Yet she never allowed the obstacles thrown into her path to slow her down, to prevent her from living the life she chose. What began as a photo shoot for a press packet to promote Stephanie's quest to be the first person to run in every Race for the Cure evolved into something much more. As the working relationship between Stephanie and Charlee Brodsky grew, so did their friendship - and out of both emerged an art show, a video, and, now, this book. Knowing Stephanie combines Brodsky's photographs and Stephanie's words with Jennifer Matesa's biographical essay, ""Reconstructing a Life."" For Stephanie, the project allowed her to visualize herself - her life and her body - differently. According to Brodsky, ""She was able to transform her profound disappointment with the cards she was dealt into a life that was about living."" And in doing so she provided a treasure for us all, regardless of our gender or state of health.
Charlee Brodsky, a professor of photography at Carnegie Mellon University, is the coauthor of Pittsburgh Revealed: Photographs Since 1850, A Town Without Steel: Envisioning Homestead, and, with Jennifer Matesa, Navel-Gazing: The Days and Nights of a Mother in the Making. Brodsky and Matesa have both won numerous awards for their work, and both live in Pittsburgh.