These are sessions I wish I could say I was never hired for. I wish there was no such thing as cancer. I wish these women never sat in a room and heard those words land so heavily on their hearts. But I am so unbelievably grateful these women continue to seek me out to tell their stories. I can’t express the magnitude, and gratitude of that responsibility. As a documentary photographer, I’m witness to some of the happiest and hardest times in a person’s life. Because of that I’m blessed to be reminded over and over again that there is just as much beauty in the struggles of our lives, it’s always there in the love and humanity of it all. It’s there in the tears and the mess. It’s there in the hugs and the prayers.
Mandy reached out to me after seeing a similar video I did for a fellow cancer butt kicker, Zarina. Mandy was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and endured 16 rounds of chemo. I was asked to be there for her last. Usually I would take that for what it is, I’m asked to do a job, I show up. But this was different. The pandemic raging on meant Mandy was only allowed one guest to accompany her on her last round. I know her husband and family had been by her side for all of the others, but the magnitude of this ask, and the honor of sharing that space and that memory with a woman I’d only had a phone chat with was humbling to say the least. Her gracious husband and family, who was by her side through all 16 rounds, allowed me to step in and document this for her. We were basically strangers just days before, but spending these hours with her made me feel like I’ve known her my whole life. Meeting her, hearing the trials of this year and her testimony… her unwavering faith, has made an indelible imprint on me. The people and their amazing stories this job has brought into my life leave me forever grateful and blessed. Join me in celebrating Mandy and praying for her continued success as she’s now in the early stages of completing 30 rounds of radiation. No doubt she’s going to rock it with the same level of grace, grit, and faith.
Mandy, your testimony and tangible faith continues to inspire me. Thank you for inviting me into your life for this, I’m forever grateful.