Cancer. No matter who it finds, the reality is painful and hard to process for all involved. But from my experience of photographing children with cancer (and other terminal illnesses) at Canuck Place, there is something that their spirit can endure that as adults, we don’t do nearly as well.
Let me introduce you to Emma. Bam-a-ram-a-ram Emma!
For the past year, Emma has been through surgery to remove her tumour, rounds of chemotherapy and followup scans, and countless transfusions. During that time, her family has come to call BC Children’s Hospital home while she was receiving treatment. And now here we are, Emma cancer-free and sporting the cutest pixie hairstyle.
With the most thoughtful gift from Emma’s aunt Niki, I get to hang out with them for their Day in the Life. Sarah, Emma’s mom was telling me how Emma was yelling/singing out “Conquer Cancer!” repeatedly while walking home from school with a new friend the other day. It could be awkward, trying to explain things to their new friends, but instead, Sarah laughed it off. They’ve been through way too much and laughter really is the best medicine.
The smell of bacon, sausages and pancake permeate their home as Adam cooks us up a mean brunch. Well, at least, that was the intention. Emma and her little brother, Matthew, are bacon fiends and I lost my chance. And apparently, the pancakes are only mere accompaniments to ever-flowing maple syrup. I want in on all their weekend brunches!
What I appreciate the most about my time with them is that it was completely mundane. Play, a walk, yummy food, patio table aquisition, musings of the word “discorectangle”, and lots of cuddles. There is nothing complicated, nothing planned. Because of what they have been through, they relish in the simple and regular life with much greater appreciation than most families.
When I finally delivered Sarah and Adam their gallery, I got this incredible note from Sarah.
“These pictures are so lovely and I really appreciate having them. This is feels like a very strange, transitional time in our lives, somewhere between babies and children, sickness and health, moving house, change of season, and on and on. I am so glad you have documented it in such an authentic way.”
Thank YOU Sarah and Adam, for sharing your story of Emma and your family time with me. I will absolutely come back when you are ready!
Felicia is a Vancouver Documentary Photographer who breaks the mold and expectations of traditional family portraiture. She takes the good with the bad, and leaves judgement at the door, and captures everyday life just as she sees it. Contact her to find your family’s edition of life story for your visual diary! To follow more of Felicia’s work, connect over at @feliciachangphoto on Instagram.