I know that most of us have been touched by cancer at some point in our lives. I cared for my mother in her final months of the disease and it changed me. It’s something that takes you to the deepest lows but also allows you permission to share the highest highs, the moments that very few people take the time to experience. But let me tell you, the memories of those days will stay with me forever and will be passed on in stories to my children. In this time we talked about having professional pictures taken and never quite made the time for it, that’s why I now offer free portraits sessions for families faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis. I want this to be one less regret they have. I’ve written about this program (The Emma Project) here so if you know of anyone that could benefit from this offer, please forward them this post.
Madison is so poised and mature. She is one of those girls that you meet and think, there is no way she is a teenager. But fighting for your life kind of changes you I guess, makes you grow older and wiser event hough your chronological age hasn’t quite yet caught up.
She is a bright light in this world! I am lucky that she contacted me to take pictures of her and her family, through The Emma Project as a sort of celebration. Madison fought and won a battle that you would hope no one would ever have to fight. She was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma as a teenager. While most girls are thinking about school dances and drivers licenses, Madison was thinking about deep, life questions and how to best treasure her family, friends, and boyfriend Stacy.
These words are from a post Madison wrote on her Instagram page;
“Almost everyone has had an experience with cancer, whether it has been your grandma, uncle, niece, sister, friend. It’s been almost a year since the worst day of my life. On 7/9/13 I went into the doctor for a cough and was told it could possibly be something called lymphoma. 7/18/13 I was taken into surgery to have a lymph node taken out of my neck to see if it was cancer/lymphoma and a bone marrow biopsy to see if it did end up being cancer we needed to see if it was in my bones. 7/19/13 I got my permit. On 7/22/13 I got a Picc line put in my left arm, (a long tube that goes in a vein all the way from my arm to my heart that I used to have chemo pumped into me, and blood drawn) and I also got my first chemo that day. Could you imagine being told you had cancer. Could you imagine being told you were going to lose all your hair, and gain about 35-40 pounds from steroids, and get acne, and throw up so many times you have to worry about the enamel on your teeth. Suddenly your teenage life is ripped right out from under you, worrying about school and going to the movies and hanging out with friends turns into worrying about taking pills every day, worrying about the chemo not working, and worrying about dying, obviously. I’m so glad that it’s over. I’m so glad I had an amazing support system. I couldn’t have done it without my amazing family, amazing friends, Newcastle community and Fire Department, and of course my amazing boyfriend who stuck to me like glue through the hardest of times. Sometimes when I think about myself being sick at one point really gets to me. It’s still hard to accept, no one ever thinks it can happen to them, I still miss my old self. Even after being cancer free you don’t go completely back to normal, a part of you is still missing, which is hard to explain. I’ve been forced to grow up, I definitely don’t feel sixteen. Cancer taught me what was important in life, and how precious it really is because in a matter of seconds it can all be taken away. I thank God everyday I am here and healthy. Here’s to many more years of being cancer free, and never having issues again for the rest of my life.”
I’m so happy for Madison. I’m happy that she has a vision for her life and all that she can do and create and become. Her relationship with her family is so beautiful to witness.
On this day we got together for pictures of Madison, her family, and her boyfriend Stacy for a photography session. I wanted to make this so incredibly special for her so we met at my studio for snacks and hair by Alicia Andrews and makeup by Rachel Harrison! So much fun! Then we went out for pictures and I had so much fun getting to know this family and their humor and what makes them such an unbreakable force!
I thank you Madison for showing me what courage and grace and gratitude truly looks like.