One of the hardest days of my life was the day in 2016 that I found out that my husband, at age 28, had colon cancer. Our world seemed to start spinning and slowing down all at once, and we didn’t know up from down. Our daughter was only 18 months old, and I was fresh out of graduate school working part time trying to build up experience. He went through surgery and removal of part of his sigmoid colon at Lima Memorial Hospital, thirteen chemotherapy treatments at St. Rita’s in Lima, and months of pain – but we were lucky. Stage IIIA colon cancer did not wreck our lives as much as it could, and I am grateful every single day.
Fast forward to a few months ago.
My third cousin (who at one point felt more like a brother – you know those cousins – he lived across the street from me with his mom, two brothers and sister in Grover Hill, Ohio and we’d run around town like we owned it – and when they moved, my mom and I were at their new house all the time so it didn’t even matter that they moved but then we grew apart because teenagers…) married a beautiful girl and they had a beautiful daughter. I was even able to take portraits of them this Spring when I did family photos of all of the crew back in that hometown of Grover Hill in Paulding County!
It wasn’t long before the news broke that Devin and Terel were expecting another baby! How exciting for a young, growing family. Then we got other news:
” At only age 29, 27 weeks pregnant, with a 2 year old and husband at home, Terel has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. “
My heart sunk. I had just seen her, and she was fine and happy and healthy. But – as I know better than I’d ever like to admit to myself, cancer doesn’t care. So I knew that I had to do something to help this family out. I remember being in that spot. “How will we pay for our…” “What if…” “I can’t go to work..” “My spouse can’t work..”
I messaged my friend Andrea Schlueter – who is Terel’s bonus sister – and a photographer in Paulding County. I had an idea – let’s do a mini session marathon at the Black Swamp Nature Center in Paulding and give the proceeds to Terel and Devin. She was completely on board, and we were nearly fully booked within 2 days. We raised over $1200 for the family.
To those who booked a mini: you rock.
I wanted to write a blog post to be able to share some of these images, the GoFundMe, and the Facebook Page – where you can learn more ways to donate including t-shirts, magnets, and a poker run. But I also wanted to let anyone who may be suffering from this horrible disease – breast cancer, colon cancer, or any other type of cancer – know that I am here. I am here to talk to, cry to, scream in anger to, and I offer free family sessions to cancer warriors and survivors so that you can cherish time and memories.