This mother wanted her son to have photos to understand her breast cancer journey

Photographer Angelica Edwards met Keyla “Nunny” Reece when she took an assignment to cover a story about hospital parking fees for her student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 2015, Reece, of Hope Mills, N.C., felt a lump in her breast, got it checked out and was told it was a benign cyst. Two years later, she felt an additional lump, this time under her armpit, while simultaneously experiencing skin blotches and extreme back pain.

In June 2017, doctors diagnosed Reece with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. It had spread to her ribs, lungs, spine and pelvis.

After the initial photo assignment, Edwards contacted Reece to see if she would allow her to document her journey.

Reece was excited to share her story. She said she wanted her son, Ryan, who was 10 years old at the time, to be able to look back and understand what his mother went through as he got older and she was no longer here.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. As the month ends, we take an intimate look at Reece’s breast cancer journey through pictures.

Angelica Edwards is a photographer based in Chapel Hill, N.C. Follow her on Instagram @angelica_edwards2

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit