Jeremy is an amazing little boy fighting retinoblastoma (eye cancer) and I had a wonderful time meeting him and his family at the beach for a fun session! He's a big brother now, began school in August and doing well. Overall, he's received 5 rounds of systemic chemotherapy, 7 rounds of intra arterial chemotherapy and had his left eye removed this last March. If you know of a child fighting cancer contact The Gold Hope Project and they will find a participating photographer in your region.
This last day of September I want to dedicate to a couple of Gold Hope Fighter sessions.
Last year I met Lauren, she was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma just one month before her 15th birthday in the summer of 2012. It was a weekend morning when her mom went to her bedroom to wake her. She began tickling her and felt an extremely large mass in her abdomen. It felt like a football. As a nurse, her mom knew something wasn't right, and took her to the emergency room. After having emergency surgery, a 15.5 pound mass was removed from her pelvis, along with an ovary and numerous lymph nodes. It took what seemed like years to finally get a diagnosis. Her case is quite rare in that Neuroblastoma typically occurs in children under the age of six. Prior to her diagnosis, Lauren was a remarkable young lady, and she continues to shine through her journey after diagnosis. She excelled in school and was in the top three of her class. With school being so important to her, she has continued by taking her classes on-line through a virtual school. She was a competitive dancer, however has been unable to dance since her treatment began. She is a loving daughter, sister and friend. Lauren has completed six rounds of chemotherapy. She had high dose chemotherapy prior to her stem cell transplant. She then had 12 rounds of radiation. Currently she is enrolled in a study where she receives antibody therapy. This portion of her treatment has been the most difficult for her.
I met this adorable family a couple years ago and I get so giddy every time they schedule a session with me. When I plan a photo session, it's not just about picking a date, time, location and showing up with my camera. I envision the perfect lighting, the fun conversations, the possible props and my mental shutter starts going off! Lots of planning with wardrobe and location go into my stylized sessions. This gorgeous lady plans out her family's outfits and I enjoy that she shares her vision with me. Summer is drawing to an end, so we wanted to capture some family photos enjoying a picnic before the little miss started kindergarten. If you have a totally creative or crazy (good crazy, lol) idea for a portrait session, shoot me an e-mail, I would LOVE to help you work out all the details and can give you ideas as well.
Over a year ago I had an unsettling feeling that there had to be more than just capturing pretty pictures in being a photographer. Don't get me wrong, I love working with all the wonderful families I get to meet and share some fun moments with them. I'm grateful I can take sweet, quiet, loving, funny, silly, beautiful moments in time and freeze them and people get to display them on their walls as memories. I sometimes get thank you cards after clients insist they are not photogenic or moms tell me their kids are happy to see Miss Lily again. It warms my heart. I say this because I believe our Creator gave us all different gifts and I want to use my gifts He gave me and give back. I stumbled upon the Gold Hope Project when I read a story about a little girl named Ava battling terminal cancer and her mother's quest to document every moment before they became just memories. This wonderful little girl inspired a group of photographers to start this project. The Gold Hope Project was created so that every family, fighting alongside their child would be able to have pictures together and of their amazingly strong fighter. It's a way for the families to not have to worry about getting funds together to have their memories preserved, a fun project of volunteers that would open their hearts to these families. A place that would share information about the 'C' monster that is Cancer. When I heard they needed volunteer photographers, something inside me sparked and I knew that project needed me. I submitted my application and became the first photographer in the south Florida region within a 100 mile radius to be listed. I'm so happy the volunteer photographers have grown in numbers and the project is reaching most parts of the country. If you have or know a child (ages 0-21) battling cancer and would like professional photos, please contact the project and they will contact your local photographer and set you up. I've had the honor of meeting some awesome kids and giving them the gift of memories. My prayer for them is that they stay strong, find healing, and be able to pass down those photos to their kids. I will be updating my blog this month with a couple of past Gold sessions.
It's very difficult when family members live in different states or countries. Family reunions or vacation visits are a great time to get your family photos done. I love this family, it was so nice to meet and see siblings and cousins gather. So happy they allowed me to share an evening with them.
Lily at Lilyta Photography