“Hello my name is Crystal Marie Cantu, friends call me Crissy. I am 30 years old woman who lives with a disability. I was diagnosed at 7 years old, with Muscular Dystrophy which is a progressive weakness in the muscles. I have had this disease for most of my life. There are different types of Muscular Dystrophy but recently my doctor tested me and the results came out that my new diagnosis is Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, which affects the center of my body or the hips, quads and shoulders: the main areas that give ability to move your legs and arms. However, there are other areas that are weak in my body as well. So my diagnosis is a bit more rare than others and is still being tested. Although I was diagnosed with MD, I didn't start using a wheelchair until I was about 19 or 20, so before that I was still walking but you could tell it was getting more difficult for me to move at a normal pace. The reason as to why I started using my wheelchair was because I had a bad fall that caused me to bust my head open and need stitches. So for safety reasons, it was a must to use a wheelchair.
Sounds intense huh? Well at times it is but it doesn't overpower my life. I still try to do my best to just live my life as best as I can. I tell everyone that now my life is like a bucket list these days. There is so much I want to do before I can't anymore. I don't want to miss out on the things I thought I might not be able to do. Now I just do it! It's so easy to dwell on your disability, limitations are just screaming at you and you just don't even want to try.Trust me, I've been there and I still have those moments; no one is perfect. But most of the time I just try and experience anything that I can. With the help of my close family and friends, I have been able to take a road-trip to Los Angeles California, fly on in airplane to Las Vegas, go water skiing, finish college with an Associates Degree and so much more.
Anything is possible and sometimes you have to ask for help, so don't feel ashamed about that. I know it's difficult because all of us want to be a 100% independent but sometimes that not the case. But if you have people there with you to support you and be there for you, take the help. Not because you need it but because they are willing to help you.
Disability can be a struggle but it does NOT define your life and who you are as a person. So live your life for YOU.
The boudoir session was honestly the most amazing experience I've EVER had. I've had other photo-shoot sessions but this one was so easy and calm for me. Sometimes it's difficult for me to be in front of the camera. It's like an awkward feeling of not knowing how to pose, especially since I am disabled. So my poses are a bit different than an able-body person. So when I got there I was a bit nervous but once we started, Angela said for me not to worry that she would guide me through it and she did! She made me feel so much confidence in myself and comfortable. She knew what would work for me and my body. Every time she would take a shot of me, she would always have something positive to say which made my experience easier. Throughout the session, I did need help but it felt smooth and had such good vibes in the studio setting. I don't think I have ever had that experience before and I feel like that's why she was able to capture beautiful photos of me! I wasn't in my head thinking too much about how I looked, I was in the moment and just felt sexy, confident, content and ravishing.”
Chronically Beautiful is a project I started in 2018 as I battled my own illnesses. It is my hope that this project shed light on the diseases that change our lives and that it will help change misconceptions about being chronically ill and or living with disabilities . Additionally I hope to inspire those facing health challenges to live their best life.
If you would like to participate in this project please submit your story to me first by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line "Chronically Beautiful".
Note... You do not need to have a visible illness or disability to participate. I want to share people's stories with all illnesses and disabilities.