The word ‘ballerina’ usually invokes an image of delicate beauty, slender limbs, quiet strength—and hairy men in tutus? Bob Carey, an American photographer, is the founder of an unconventional breast cancer awareness campaign called The Tutu Project.
When his wife of more than two decades, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and then again in 2006, the idea began as a coping mechanism and a way to make Linda laugh. She began taking her husband’s ridiculous portraits with her to her chemo treatments, to share with the other patients and to take their mind off their ordeal. “Oddly enough, her cancer has taught us that life is good, dealing with it can be hard, and sometimes the very best thing — no, the only thing — we can do to face another day is to laugh at ourselves, and share a laugh with others,” Bob confessed.
And so the Tutu Project was born. It took Bob all around the world: from Australia to Italy to Times Square, creating visual moments that are sometimes hilarious and sometimes vulnerable but always heartwarming.
As the venture took off and went viral, Bob decided to self-publish a book called Ballerina to share his portraits and stories. The proceeds will go to his non-profit, The Carey Foundation, which the couple created in 2012 in order to help ease the financial burden on cancer patients that aren’t covered by insurance. Their services include counseling, childcare and transportation to appointments.