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.
This is Thomas Maeda. Thomas is 17-years-old. When Thomas was 13-years-old, he complained about some pain he was having, so his mom, Emily, took him to the doctor. He was initially misdiagnosed with a hematoma on his kidney. After 10 days of growing pain, Emily took him back to the doc because the pain seemed way too much for a hematoma. They did an ultrasound which confirmed what had been on the original CT that the radiologist had disregarded: he had a 10 cm tumor growing on his kidney. He was thirteen years old, and about to take a trip to Spain to visit friends. At the time, Emily had a five-month old baby. Thomas was diagnosed with Stage Four cancer. It had metastasized to his lungs and he had multiple tumors in his lungs. Thankfully, he had the best form of Wilms’ Tumor cancer. His prognosis was a 70% survival rate. He had chemo and radiation for nine months.
After his surgery to remove the tumor, he was unable to eat almost anything for about three weeks because of the trauma to his gut. He lost over 30 pounds and slipped down to under 85 pounds at his worse point (he was 5’8″). The chemo made him more sick than it was supposed to so he had to have a feeding tube during his entire treatment because he couldn’t gain weight. He battled intense nausea and vomiting for the entire treatment. His amazing Mama cleaned up lots of puke, and his teeth now show the effects of nine months of puking – 17 cavities on his top teeth alone!
BUT he finished, and so far, has been cancer FREE, another point of thankfulness for this awesome family! You can follow Thomas’ journey on their personal blog at Lifting Up Thomas.
I got to photograph this big, amazing, fun-loving family a couple of weeks ago, and I was hooked. I was hoping to adopt every last one of them. Enjoy one of my favorite sessions to date with the Maeda family! I am so enamored with my St. Baldrick’s families! They are strong, resilient, determined, and full of faith and hope. I walk away inspired EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I meet a new family.