I’m warning you right now, this post is going to be a little longer than usual. But if you read the story you won’t be disappointed.
As you may or may not know, I am involved with a project called Inspira(shown), where people can nominate a deserving person in their life for a free photoshoot. I hadn’t received a nomination in a long time, so I was ecstatic to find a beautifully written letter about Laura in my inbox last month. Of course I teared up almost immediately while reading it, but that only goes to show how powerful it was.
I could paraphrase Laura’s story, but her best friend’s nomination was so well written that I’d rather just share it directly. So here it is:
“I have known Laura since we began 7th grade together. We are now both sophomores in college and still very close friends. A year ago, Laura’s father was diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer. The news devastated her family of five (her mother, father, and younger brother and sister), though Laura did her best to keep her head up and support her family. To this day, Laura remains one of the strongest, most driven and caring individuals I know. She has managed tremendously to “keep it together”, so to speak, even under these horrendous circumstances. After a number of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, her father was told he was completely cancer-free and in remission. Though he was now a insulin-dependent diabetic after having a large portion of his pancreas removed. He remained this way for 4 months, and, while the family celebrated, they received some additional bad news. Earlier this year, Laura’s grandfather was admitted to the ICU and passed away shortly after. Even through the enormous amount of tragedy and hardship, Laura and her siblings remained strong. They grew closer than ever before and together they began to face the chaos. Last month, Laura’s family received some of the most shocking and heart-breaking news they had…Laura’s father went in for a routine, post-op MRI and was told that his cancer was back, and this time with even more aggression. His previously-diagnosed stage three pancreatic cancer had now spread to his liver and was now considered stage four. They were told he has less than one year to live and will be treated only to decrease his suffering, rather than fighting the disease any further.
Laura, the amazing soldier that she is, has managed to keep her spirits high and hope even higher. She works with her family to make sure everyone is alright at all times, and has been putting forth tremendous effort to watch out for her siblings well-being throughout all of this. This news, along with the numerous, terrible things that have happened to her family this year, has been some of the hardest information they have/will ever receive. I cannot even begin to imagine what any of them are feeling, and I have been spending a lot of time with Laura lately. I have done my best to lend support and love to her, but ultimately her stability and strength has all come from within. She is truly one of the most incredibly big-hearted, smartest, and toughest individuals I have ever met. She has been dealt a terrible hand this year and has been doing an enormously self-less job keeping her family afloat. She shows, through her actions and words, her unconditional, tender love for her family members, especially her incredibly strong and brave mother, Hilary.
An inspiration to me, as well as many others, Laura has grown into a beautiful, strong-willed, and brave young woman. She has kept her head and hopes up in the midst of all of this tragic chaos. She inspires me to be a stronger and better person, as she has shown so much strength and brilliance herself. She is truly one of the most kind-hearted, and spirited individuals, despite the fact that she is essentially preparing to take on the biggest loss and heartbreak of her life.
I think a photoshoot with her would help them to remember that they are very special and strong people. Along with giving them a reason to smile, even if it is so very temporary.”
I think a girl who has gone through all that definitely deserves a lighthearted photoshoot to lift her spirits, don’t you? Her siblings and father weren’t able to join, but her mother tagged along and I got to take a few photos of them together, as well as a bunch of portraits of the beautiful Laura by herself. All of these were taken at the Hoyt Arboretum on a perfect, sunny evening.
Thank you Laura, for allowing me to share this, and for being such a wonderful person. You are certainly an inspiration to many.
If this story inspires you and you happen to know someone who also deserves a free photoshoot, and who wouldn’t mind sharing their story, please don’t hesitate to nominate them for this project! I absolutely love to do sessions like these.