Dear Family and Friends,
When I was a little girl, the idea we could lose the ones we loved was never a thought in my brain. These days, there isn’t one person you meet that doesn’t either know someone affected by cancer or has them self been
affected by cancer. Cancer is truly a scary subject. But there is one much worse – hopelessness. The ability to not know how to help or give help to your friends and family you love.
In 2001, my mom was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Cowdence Disease. It’s a genetic malformation of the P10 gene that creates tumors in her body. P10 is one of the most commonly lost tumor suppressors in human cancer. Some are cancerous; some are benign, most can be removed with surgery. Because of her Cowdence we as a family were comfortable with the fact if the doctors ever found anything; it would be taken care of quickly. This process had happened 4 times prior (skin, two-different breast diagnosis, and colon).
Unfortunately, in July of 2013, my family’s idea of a “medical comfort zone” changed. The doctors found a lump in her lung larger than an orange that had nothing to do with her prior disease. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This was the first time we heard the phrase “aggressive chemo treatment schedule”.
I felt lost, powerless and unable to feel any help I could give would be enough. Since this was the first time my mom had to go through a chemo regiment, the idea of losing her hair was definitely in the cards. She decided to cut her hair short in the hopes her hair loss would be minimal, and thus the shock to her kids of her being in that state would also be easier to handle.
One night, I was talking about her new hair cut and she giggled and said I should photographer her, and use her as one of my “Inspiration models” in my series called “Ladies of Class”. “I want to empower others that cancer and chemo wasn’t hopelessness, it can be beautiful and strong”. After several conversations back and forth, The Next Birthday Project was formed.
Ever since I could hold a camera, I have always wanted to be a photographer. Photography and the skill of capturing how beautiful I saw the world was a lifelong goal. The idea of marrying my creative calling with hope through the visual journeys of stories by people who were affected by cancer was all I needed to get this project running.
At The Next Birthday Project, our goal is to shine light on the human element of cancer through pictures that incite your emotions. We hope to continuously convey the message of hope, strength and courage to all individuals, both directly and indirectly affected by the disease while also providing a positive platform upon which we can stand in solidarity. It is time that we showed the face behind the ribbon.
Summer is just around the corner, and this year The Next Birthday Project on June 1, 2014 will be involved in the Dorchester Day Parade. It’s a neighborhood event that draws all walks of our community together for one joyous day of celebration. This is pretty big for us as we are trying to get the word spread around about this project. What better way than to start in your hometown right? We are looking for donations in the form of help/services or supplies we need to make our parade a full fledge success.
My mom’s amazing outlook during her battles with cancer, has not only given her family the vehicle they need to face their own hurdles, it has give hope and inspiration to anyone she touches. Together, we can create a whole new way to inspire strength, courage and the spirit to continue. Remember… No one fights alone!
Warm regards and many thanks,
Overview of Project
This campaign showcases the survivors, current patients, and those who have lost their battle to cancer. I want to showcase each individual’s story by putting a face and a message through my photography.
This project is ongoing and has no end date. My goal is to have this “Hope & Inspire” campaign spread worldwide to people directly and indirectly affected by cancer. There are so many wonderful organizations out there supporting and rallying their efforts against the disease; it is now time to focus on the people.
The process consists of the following:
• Three-panel photos featured on “The Next Birthday Project”
• A favorite location as a backdrop for the photography shoot
• The signature “stool” being used in every photo
• A balloon(s) will represent the cancer the person has and a colored ribbon.
o 1st panel – (the diagnosis); photo of person with balloon alone
o 2nd panel – (the process); people who supported this person, or how this person’s story became a beacon for others
o 3rd panel – (the experience); different for everyone and thus is taken on a case-by-case basis
Each story will include three items to provide to the photographer before the photo shoot.
1. The location where you want to be photographed
2. Cancer information, i.e. what kind, diagnosis day and year. If you are a survivor, please provide the day you became one. If you are a current patient, where are you in your treatment process? If this is in memoriam, please provide a message you wish to share about this person.
Social Media Links
One word that best sums up the experience