This sweet little girl is Esther. In June 2012, Esther’s parents noticed a bump on the top of Esther’s head. On June 22, 2012, she was diagnosed with a stage IV, high risk solid tumor cancer called Neuroblastoma. She was 3 years old.
Esther’s mom, Samantha, dutifully blogged Esther’s treatment. Each trip to the hospital, each round of treatment was shared as Esther’s tiny body fought. The struggle with watching her child be so ill and the journey to trust God are what makes this woman so special. You can read every single update here: http://www.spendandbespent.blogspot.com/.
Esther completed 7 rounds of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, radiation, surgery, and 6 months of immunotherapy before finally getting the test results that had been waiting for: all clear! By July of 2013, Esther’s scans were normal.
When I met Esther, she was shy, giggly & she stared at this chick who had a messy bun on top of her head & rain boots on. She giggled behind her twin sister as we talked about taking photos. Looking at this beautiful, healthy 6 1/2 year old, you would never know the struggle & the pain her body went through. She is a darling little girl, full of life, and I was honored to photograph her family to celebrate their fight.
I am going to pull at your heartstrings today because this is something that weighs on me nearly everyday. I am a family photographer. It is my heart, my passion, my inspiration. My job is take capture your family’s essence at a moment in time.
Yes, you yelled, they cried, someone scraped a knee, someone wiped snot on your top, and you will be heading out for a shot of something strong after your session. These are all normal occurrences. You believe that only your children act a fool on the day that you need them to look like the perfect Stepford family. No. All children act this way. Especially on important days. It is how they are wired: how disgusting & obnoxious can we get before making mom cry? Welcome to parenthood. HOWEVER, my job is to take that heinousness, set it aside, and capture you, your interaction, your children’s smiles, their laughter, their whimsy, your love for your spouse, your love for your kids, in spite of them making you scream, cry & yell.
Recently, I have started working with St. Baldrick’s families. These families only intensify the importance of family photos in my eyes. As a mom, it is a stretching exercise to work with these families. It is every mother’s greatest fear realized: childhood cancer. It’s horrible. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment though. How much more important & valuable are those family photos now, knowing that your child is sick? Absolutely priceless.
I joke around a lot, but on this subject, I am dead serious. So many things in life are unpredictable. We are not promised tomorrow, and how devastating would it be to miss out on having your loved ones in the frame because you kept putting it off.
Yes, custom photography is expensive. I get it. It’s an investment. It is not easy for everyone to just drop a chunk of change on custom photography. However, I can’t tell you how many people I have come across since starting my business who have told me that they have lost sons, daughters, grandchildren, moms, dads, and one of their greatest regrets is never taking the time or money to invest in a session. The first time I heard a story like that, I came home & cried. How devastating!
If you lost a loved one tomorrow, the photos that you invested in would be priceless. You would cling to those images for the rest of your life. Skip Starbucks a few times, put away birthday money. Save some money, and find a family photographer that you love & trust. You will NEVER regret taking the time & the money to get your family photographed each year.
This is Taylor. Taylor is 10-years-old. She likes art, music & PE. She has 2 brothers & a sister. Her room is covered with glitter. She has cancer.
Sweet little Taylor is in the hospital right now for a common cold, but because she is in the middle of chemotherapy, a simple cold is not simple. She is doing a heavy dose of antibiotics in the middle of being connected to a chemo pump.
I have recently started working with St. Baldrick’s families. St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a childhood cancer charity funding research to help find cures for children with cancer. They sponsor head-shaving events all over the country to help raise money. The families I get to meet & work with all have a little who has or had cancer.
In getting connected with this organization, I met Taylor’s mom, Chelsea, on Facebook. Chelsea is incredible. She spends her entire life helping to keep life normal for Taylor while she spends her days in the hospital. Friday night was no exception. Chelsea prepared a Passover Seder for her family to have while in a small hospital room. Our Seder consisted of painfully sweet wine (juice for the kids & Daddy), plague masks for each of the plagues God sent to earth, a barf bucket for washing our hands, and matzo. It was one of the most fun times I have ever had in a hospital room.
If you think of it, pray for Taylor. She took a turn for the worse late Friday night, and is now at Children’s Hospital. This sweet girl is a fighter, but she needs prayer. You can follow her Mama’s updates on their Facebook page. Thank you, Payne family, for welcoming to your Passover “table,” and for letting me photograph your AWESOME family.
If you or a family member are a shavee, or if you have a family member battling childhood cancer, please email me for your complimentary family session. I can’t tell you how important it is to photograph your family during times like these. Family photography is my passion, and making sure that these sessions happen for families of sick young ones only strengthens that passion.