I met Jennifer last year to shoot her daughter's senior pictures. Since then, we've gotten together a few more times for some other portrait sessions. During the last session, we got to talking about her sister Heather, and Jennifer told me about Heather's incredibly brave battle with cancer. While Jen was talking about her sister, I could see in her eyes, her expression, and hear in her voice, the deep love she has for Heather. I immediately offered to take some portraits of Heather with her family, if she was feeling well enough to do so.
Last night, I met up with Jen & Heather, and had the pleasure of spending a short but unforgettable time with the two of them. Heather was diagnosed with skin cancer exactly a year ago this week, and it quickly took over her entire body. She's endured so much more than I can ever imagine dealing with in life, but her cheery attitude never showed that. I've donated countless sessions for families in need, for children with congenital heart defects, and for the terminally ill. But something about Heather really stuck with me. From the minute I met her, she had a smile on her face. She's been through more than anyone I've ever met battling cancer, yet she still had a very bright & brave spirit within her. Not once did she make any comments about any pain she was certainly enduring. She was so exhausted she was falling asleep at times, even though we only took photos for about 15 minutes, possibly less. Heather just enjoyed the company of Jen, and myself, and I certainly enjoyed the company of her.
Of all the sessions I've photographed, of all the stories of bravery I've heard, nothing has affected me the same way Heather has. Her battle is so incredibly saddening, but her demeanor is what's truly unforgettable. I didn't know Heather before yesterday, but I surely wish I had met her before.
I left our session with so many mixed emotions, and I didn't know how to feel. I was overwhelmed with an incredible sense of sadness and I felt like I could break down any second, but it never came out. Happiness for being able to give Jen & Heather the gift of their last photos together. Lastly, I felt honored. Honored to have met and spoken with and hugged such a wonderful, loving & brave person. If she made such a lasting impression on me in the 30 minutes that I knew her, I can't imagine the huge amount of love those in her life must feel for her.
Heather, thank you for allowing me to be a very short part of your life, because you changed mine forever. I send you infinite amounts of love, hugs & prayers. Keep that bright smile shining, no matter where life takes you :)
Genna Cameron Photography