Cancer, unfortunately, is something that has impacted my life greatly. I lost my dad at 14 to brain cancer, and it’s given me a tender spot for families who are going through something similar. I responded to a tag in a post about a family looking for a family photographer quickly. Once I read the story, I knew I had to offer whatever I could.
Karol and her husband were serving an LDS mission overseas when some health concerns arose. When they got back to the states, Karol received the news that she had cancer and would need treatments. Their entire family was going to be together and wanted to do a family session before the treatments started and Karol had to manage the side effects of them. I offered to do these pictures as a gift to this family because I wanted to do something to help lift their spirits.
Every family and individual who is affected by cancer obviously goes through their journey in different ways. But when I hear of people going through something that I can at least relate to, I try and think of ways to help ease their burden. I can’t tell you how many blessings and acts of service were done for my family during all of my dad’s treatments. But I can tell you that I remember so many. I remember that our small Ohio LDS ward brought dinner over almost nightly for MONTHS. Guys, there were like 100 active members in our ward at the time, so that meant that families were pretty much bringing us 3-4 dinners a month each. I remember one young man who really enjoyed learning to cook, and he was so proud of the meal that he brought us with the help of his mom. I also remember members of our community dropping off dozens of Heavenly Hams. One family brought an entire large box full of things for our school lunches so my mom didn’t have to worry about packing them for us. During one of our family vacations early in my dad’s diagnosis, we met up with one of his old buddies. He gave each of us four kids $100 to spend on our vacation. I was in 5th grade, and it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Another group of women donated a condo for us to stay in in Florida so our family could experience Disney World together. Hospice helped us towards the end had so many amazing volunteers. My favorite was the therapy dog and his owner who would come over. We played with the dog while the Social Service volunteer talked with us about what to expect with my dad’s declining health. They even took the therapy dog to our small private school. They talked with our classmates about how to help support us as their friends during such a difficult time. My classmates and other students at the school all wrote me letters after my dad’s passing that I still read to this day. My best friend’s mom gave me a journal to write down all my memories of my dad and any thoughts and feelings I needed to get out. One dear woman from my ward gave me a locket after his passing. She will never know how much that meant to me. Even though that one broke, I bought a new one because of the comfort I feel when wearing it. When my father-in-law passed away last year, I made lockets for all my sister-in-laws so they could feel those same feelings.
There are so many ways that we can help bear each others burdens and serve those who are going through impossible things. I’m so GRATEFUL that I have been blessed to do photography as a career because it allows me to offer something that is invaluable to families who are going through something like cancer. I’m very grateful this family let me do this for them because sessions like these remind me like a ton of bricks exactly why I chose to be a photographer in the first place!