In September of 2007 I married Jennifer, the girl of my dreams. Jen was the real deal: she led by example, she loved her family and friends with all of her heart and when she let you into her heart, she kept you there.
Jen was beautiful, fun, brave, loyal, passionate, courageous…
This was my wife, how happy was I????
Five months after our wedding, Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than four years after that, Jen passed.
I struggle to understand and believe that this really happened.
Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly four years of treatment and medications. At 39 she used a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump or bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.
When Jen’s cancer metastasized in 2010 I felt that people needed to actually see what our day-to-day was like and how serious Jen’s illness had become. I began to make photographs of our home life, doctor visits, hospital stays, reactions from others – everything that we faced.
Urged to do so by a friend, I entered my photos into a competition on the Internet and our story took on a life of its own. When people began to share our story, Jen and I knew that we now had a chance to do something bigger than us that would live on long after we leave this earth and help others.
Since I began showing these photographs to the public, women have contacted me to share that because of Jen they scheduled a mammogram. Regular Facebook posts from people with cancer say that these photos are a source of inspiration to make it through another procedure, another test, another day.
Spouses have shared that they want to be better to each other, to love like Jen and I did.
People tell me that, for just a little while, they are living more for each moment and not taking life for granted.
Before Jen passed I asked how she felt about me creating an organization that would help people with cancer. Jen smiled and said, “I love it, baby.” In Jennifer’s honor I am starting a nonprofit that will help people with cancer as they struggle with daily needs such as transportation and groceries. Tentatively named “The Love You Share,” I am working to make this dream a reality.
I am also in the process of publishing a book about our story. This book will accompany a traveling exhibition that aims to raise awareness about cancer and also the need for family and friends to be there for a loved one who is fighting cancer.
You do not have to know what to say to someone who has cancer; you do not have to know the answers. Cancer is not a battle that should be fought alone. Just be there.
Hi jeremy, I have found your blog through twitter and the people I follow because of my interest in photography. while I am thoroughly inspired by your photography, it was this blog post which has promoted me to post. breast cancer is also something very dear to my heart as i lost my wife to this god awful disease. I know by the images, that Jennifer's & your journey was similar to my helens and mine, even composing this message the pain hurts so much. however, those images are strong, and show how strength that you took them and show them. I love the idea of the non-profit you are starting. Helen and I often wondered how some of the patients coped as they were single, some days just getting fresh milk or bread would be so hard. not everybody drove, or was any longer capable. Please post any updates with respect to the non-profit, it's great work. Best wishes Steven.
As i read this we get a phone Call with the Score of my Wifes Oncotype Score, which saß that she will Need a Chemo Therapy. I'm still as Lucky as You were, with your Wife and i still believe that i will grow Old with her. What i still don't know is, if it is better TO Show Her your Pictures or TO Keep Them Away Form her!?
Beautiful testimony to your wife and to all patients suffering form cancer. Am a nurse and this serie of photos are really beautiful and poignant, really sharing what I know in my daily job... I'm very sorry for your loss and I think you're doing something very brave. Love, Zoé from Switzerland
Wow, Angelo. What an story, what an experience. I can't even begin to imagine the grief losing someone that close to me! The photographs are incredible and tell a powerful story. Thanks for sharing Your experience of being a loving family man and a husband to your wife right to the last moment. "Through Sickness and Through Health..."
Angelo, I can't even imaging what this could have been like to lose the love of your life. We all have been impacted in some way by cancer: friends, family, neighbors, etc. We were indirectly impacted right before we got married as my wife lost a friend to Squamous cell tongue cancer. My wife is a fine artist and she began to paint.... The painting is now called Mine for a moment. We printed lithographs and donate them to those effected by the loss of a loved one. we would be honored to donate some prints to help you in this fight. please let us know how we could partner or be of any assistance. check out the site devoted to the painting for more info and the video. Thanks jeremy! Warmly, Nate & Kelly