Josh and Brianne invited me into their home way back in February to take some shots of their son, Connor. It was my first-ever baby session and I had SO much fun! You can imagine how thrilled I was when they invited me back this month to do another session with their family! Josh was a classmate of mine in law school and is going on to get his LLM in tax law in Florida after sitting for the bar exam next month! With all of the big changes happening in their lives, I am so glad that they made a little time to stop and take some photos!

Here’s a quick peek!
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I recently spent a week in Texas visiting my family. For a girl who grew up outside of Philly, PA, it never ceases to amaze me that most of my family ended up in Texas!! My brother is a bar owner in San Antonio, my sister is in Houston growing sprouts and making the world a healthier place, and my Mom is a petsitter by the beach in Corpus Christi. While I was down there, I took some shots of my Mat’s bars for his future website, photographed several of my Mom’s pet clients, took senior portraits for my Mom’s roommate’s son, Matt (yes, there are two…my brother, Mat, and Robin’s son, Matt!), and photographed the eight week old son of a friend of my Mom’s. I am slowly, but surely making my way through all of these images, but loved this one and wanted to share! More to come!

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I am way behind on my blogging and have all sorts of things that I’d like to catch up with here on the blog, but I thought I would stop for a moment and share a bit of good news and a few thoughts…

Some of you may know that I am a cancer survivor. Cancer has been a journey that I am extremely grateful for. It changed me and changed my life in so many more ways than I ever could have imagined and I believe that I am a better person, living a better life, with better relationships because of it. It is also something that I have had to work hard to not allow to define me, to not allow “cancer patient” or “cancer survivor” to become my identity in its entirety. It is an easy and understandable thing to have happen when so much of every day is consumed by thoughts of drugs and hospitals and mortality. It becomes easier to relate to fellow patients because when they hear you say that you are tired, they understand that you mean tired, as in I-want-to-lay-down-right-now-on-this-tile-floor-and-never-get-up-again-tired. And they don’t judge you for it. But there are, inevitably, empty chairs sometimes in the chemo room, chairs that had been filled the week before with someone you’d laughed with and there is a specific sadness that comes with it that is deep and profound and terrifying. And a frustration when friends or co-workers or professors don’t understand that it took every ounce of energy and willpower that you had to merely get up, get showered, and show up and that you truly aren’t simply shirking responsibilities when you say that you just. can’t. take. on. one. more. project. right. now.

No one ever really warns you while you are in the midst of the cancer battle that once you are in remission, that the game isn’t really over. Oh, there are allusions to tests and check-ups, but you expect that, once the chemo is done and the radiation is behind you, that you will feel like YOU again. That your body will “come back”, that cancer will be a thing of the past and you can pick up your life where you left it off. But it doesn’t always (or, from my understanding, often) happen that way. Sometimes there are side effects from the treatments that carry on way past the cancer. My body stopped producing red blood cells while I was going through treatment for ovarian cancer in 2004 and it has never started properly again. The tests and the check-ups are frequent and scary and not always full of good news.

I am sharing all of this with you because I think that it is important to talk openly about illness and mortality. I believe that these things would be slightly less terrifying if we lived in a society where we embraced our sick and our dying and our dead instead of speaking in hushed tones and sending them away where we don’t have to look, where we don’t have to face our own inevitable ends. I am sharing this with you because I have been in and out of treatments again over the last 8 months or so, trying to keep at bay what seemed like it might grow into a bigger battle. And while it helped me walk away from a career choice that I was dreading and embrace this dream that I am now so fortunate to be pursuing, I admit that I faced it with fear and very often denial, sharing it with very few and even then, only out of necessity.

But yesterday I received a call. After a full day of editing several fabulous sessions (that I promise to blog VERY soon!), I drove out to a local park to go for a run. I was just getting out of my car when my phone rang and I nearly didn’t answer it- I didn’t recognize the number. But I did answer it. And I swear that I could hear the smile on the other end of the line when he told me.

100% cancer-free.

And, just for giggles and grins, my red blood cell counts were the best that they’d been since August of 2005 (the very month that I began law school!).

I am healthier than I’ve been in a very long time. I am so very and profoundly grateful and I wanted to share a bit of my deep joy and relief with you! And thank you a million times over, to all those of you out there that supported me, whether you knew that you were doing it or not! My life is so full of love…I have no idea how I got so lucky, but I appreciate it fully!

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  • natalie sJuly 6, 2009 - 5:42 pm

    cindy, i had no idea. congratulations times one million on being cancer-free – i think talking openly about mortality is so important. your blog brought tears to my eyes… lots and lots of hugs, see you soon! can’t wait to work with you. be proud of your strength of character, strength of body, and strength of will, but most importantly your strength of heart.ReplyCancel

  • SusanJune 29, 2009 - 2:19 pm

    Sweetie, I hope you get to Seattle and visit with your dad and grandmother. I hope you get to share this story with Mom. I am always in awe of you.ReplyCancel

  • Travis LukasikJune 17, 2009 - 2:02 am

    Cindy, I am so thrilled to hear this. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for speaking against the s i l e n c e . Thank you for having such a powerful voice! You i n s p i r eReplyCancel

Kate Turlington and Richard Mussewhite are the kind of neighbors that you dream about when you buy a house. Because they are not merely neighbors, they are friends…the kind of friends that you organize neighborhood yard sales with, have over for impromptu backyard bar-b-ques, and who you can trust implicitly with the care of your beloved, albeit CRAZY, dog when you go out of town! Kate is a successful professional petsitter (check out her website here!), but has nonetheless gone out of her way on numerous occasions to pop in on our Pickle when things have come up for us unexpectedly. We can’t begin to thank her sufficiently for the ease of mind that she has provided for us time and time again! Pickle is our baby, after all!

That said, you can only imagine the pleasure felt when Kate asked if I could take a few photos of her family. An opportunity to return one of the zillion favors that we owe! Yay!! Kate’s husband, Richard, has a son, Kyle, who lives in California and only is able to visit occasionally. It was so much fun to see Kyle, Richard, and Richard’s younger son, Thomas, all roughhousing around during the session…hilarious!! It began during the first part of the session at Duke Gardens, and continued right through the second part of the session in Kate and Richard’s backyard. You may recognize Kate from the images from Liz + Grant’s wedding– Kate is Grant’s sister! They have their incredible green thumbs in common and Kate has created a true garden out of her back yard! The best part of the backyard portion of the session was being able to include the rest of the kids…the four-legged ones! Marvin the mutt and Begonia the Sheltie make up the canine team, while Tallie (I don’t know what kind of cat Tallie is!) and Mari, the orange and white tabby play for the feline squad!

So, without further ado…
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  • Kate TurlingtonJune 9, 2009 - 8:18 pm

    Cindy, You are outta this world! For some time now, I’ve been envious of the lucky people whose beautiful photos you have taken and posted here, and my family and I feel incredibly lucky to now be a member of the club. You are a fabulous photographer and friend–THANK YOU a million times over!!!ReplyCancel

Amy Jo and Aimee have one of those winding stories that convince you that some people are just meant to be! Their friendship and relationship have survived their share of turmoil and hardship, but- finally!- they will celebrate their wedding next month in their home state of Iowa! I am so excited that the state in which they both grew up took the lead in the midwest to embrace the idea that consenting, committed adults of the same gender have the right to legally share their lives- I hope that soon it will be joined by every other state in our nation. Go Iowa!

Congratulations, Amy Jo & Aimee- I wish you both a beautiful wedding and a wonderful marriage!!

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