Being a photographer is an amazing job to have. I am able to make beautiful images of people that make them laugh, smile and good cry. I capture memories and create portraits that will live in families for generations. Its an unbelievable honor to be apart of someones life like that, and not one I take lightly. That being said, I also get to meet people and know bits of their story and who they are. Sometimes I hear a particular story or meet someone i find extra interesting and I extend a personal invite for them to be photographed by me, that is what happened with this session.
Being apart of many facebook groups I don't get to see all posts in all the groups (i'd be permanently attached to my computer if i was active in all of them and my family wouldn't like that very much,) but on the day I heard a bit about Isabella's story, I had just happened to be checking in one of the groups i pop into once in a while and saw a post from one of her parents friends asking for recommendations for a Limo service. Why would that peek my interest you ask (cause you totally did), its because of the reason why a Limo was being seeked out.
The limo was for a girl who was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma at the very young age of 17. She is a talented ice skater and simply brilliant. She has a love for music and life like no other and she has been battling this cancer for over a year at this point. Her families friends and parents co-workers came together to get her tickets to see a Taylor swift concert because she is a hard core #swiftie (thats what Taylor calls her fans right?) and they wanted to complete the day with the girls going by limo. They weren't asking for handouts or looking for freebies, and that spoke to me on a personal level. Hearing how such a young girl was going through rounds upon round of chemo and losing her hair and all the things that could possibly break a person spirit at such a young age just broke my heart and I wanted to do SOMETHING for her family, for HER. What could little ole me offer a family I didn't know? Portraits. I could capture a bit of her experience and her, right now, for them if they would allow me that. They accepted my offer and invited me into their home to photograph Isabella and her two friends getting ready for their favorite musician.
We of course rocked our to Taylor's 1989 record while getting ready and spoke of costumes since it was on halloween and what they would wear. I was reminded quickly how much a positive attitude has in ones journey. I watched Isabella that day through my lens, with my heart and saw that even though she is battling something so immense and so scary, she doesn't let it stop her. There wasn't an ounce of saddness to the air as the girls worried about what they were going to wear or if they might get a chance to meet her or what songs she was going to sing, and especially who her secret guest would be.
Her parents informed me since she had started chemo again she would be loosing her hair again soon, but she hadn't lost it yet so I was really excited to see she rocked her green bow with her girlfriends and they made a special banner for the evening. The support of her family is really fantastic to see. Her parents are so strong and like her Dad told me at one point, you can choose to let it bring you down or you can stay positive-its not really a choice-you just do it, you just stay positive. You stay strong for your family, and you keep fighting for and with them. (ok I paraphrased since I can't remember the exact words, but they were right around that.)
Unfortunately after the concert, Isabella caught something and ended back in the hospital with fever that dropped her white blood cells low. Of course she says it was totally worth it-especially since the surprise guest turned out to be Idina Mendzel who is her musical idol right next to T-Swift. Basically the stars shined bright for her that night and she couldn't have been much happier-unless of course she actually got to meet Taylor or Idina of course. But the experience was amazing, I know the girls-at least one of them-cried through half the concert
She is currently up in another hospital in Gainesville away from her friends and most of her family, though her mom stays with her all the time getting treatments and fighting the fight. Her dad and brother and sister travel often to and from to be there with her. Just last week she had a bone marrow transplant that HER BROTHER donated for her. (That is awesome family support folks-big props to him for doing that for her,) seeing how tight this family is makes me smile. I know She is going to kick Cancer's butt. If her family allows me to, I'd love to come back at some point and photograph her again and especially once she wins the battle.
As you can imagine this journey this difficult immense journey for this family is not only emotionally taxing, physically taxing but monetarily...it makes me cringe thinking about the cost of fighting this to win. I can only imagine the amount of bills they have to pay on top of every 'normal' expense they have. If you have even a dollar to donate, you can go through paypal at THIS LINK and help the family out. If you want to reach out to them and show your support in words and memes, follow the "Prayers for Isabella" facebook page and cheer her and her family on through this. They welcome all prayers and well wishes.