Giving something back
This is likely to be a sensitive subject so I apologise in advance.
It’s so important to spread the word though so please share if you can. I want to be able to help as many people as possible create memories by capturing images for them, they really are priceless and I also want to raise awareness of childhood cancer.
Since I started photography I have always given away vouchers to raffles for all kinds of things for family photography shoots, but I didn’t really feel that it was helping anyone in the long run. Vouchers would end up selling for pennies etc. When I started doing charity work I stopped doing this, I now prefer to give directly to the people who are in a bad place to help bring a little bit of happiness in the years to come.
I am part of a charity called butterfly wishes network which offers shoots to children with life-shortening conditions. But I also do this type of work independently (for free of course). I offer shoots to young families where a parent has a terminal condition, these photos will be so important to the children in years to come. I also do shoots for children that are very poorly for the same reasons.
I really feel that this is so important, and it feels so good to give these families something that they will treasure for a lifetime. The reason I am writing this blog is that if lots of people see and share it, hopefully, I can provide this service to more people that don’t know about it. Such a small gift to give but memories really are priceless.
If you sadly know anyone who fits this criteria please give me a message to arrange a shoot for them.
In a moment I am going to write a story about the most amazing little boy who I had the honour of meeting last year, in the hope of raising awareness for childhood cancer, I will also share some photos. The story is heartbreaking so please don’t read on if child loss is a big trigger for you. His amazing mum has given me permission to share this.
March of last year I had the honour of meeting a very poorly little boy, who had already been through so much in his little life. I think to date this has been the hardest shoot like this I have done, life really can be so cruel! I was contacted by a family friend, told briefly of his story and asked if I could do some paid photos. Naturally, I wouldn’t hear of being paid! We arranged to first do a studio shoot focusing on Cooper, then I would go to his Nan and Gramps house to do photos with his whole family. Sadly on his studio shoot, he got tired very quickly so we didn’t get as many as we would have liked but what we did get are so special.
Cooper was born a healthy beautiful little boy, but not long after his parents noticed he had a popped out stomach. They visited the doctors 3 times to be told its completely normal, but his parents knew it was something else. On the 4th visit, they finally started being listened to and were told to take him to A&E.
Following tests, when Cooper was only 5 months old in the January of 2016 his parents got the life-shattering news that their precious little boy had a very rare cancerous tumour called clear cell sarcoma on his left kidney. Nine days after they received this news Cooper underwent 4.5 hours of surgery to remove the tumour and his kidney, those 4.5 hours felt like a lifetime for his terrified parents.
Following this he had 12 lots of intense chemo over 9 long months, he spent many nights in the hospital while having his chemo due to the severity of it and needing other meds to protect his bladder. He finished this in September 2016 at 1 years old and had his line removed, his parents were told the prognosis was encouraging but still had to wait to get the all clear. He was doing amazing and was due to start nursery that January, but his mummy wasn’t ready for him to leave her side so decided to hold it off until the April 2017
But in the February Cooper started falling over a lot, his parents put it down to him being a normal toddler who had just learnt to walk so typically clumsy. But then on the 7th March, he was struggling to walk and dragging his leg, he was taken to the doctors and sent to the hospital for an x-ray. This came back saying he had one leg slightly longer than the other and they were sent home.
The next morning Cooper couldn’t use his left arm, his mum thought this was strange and rang his CLIC nurse who got them in straight away. The doctor told his parents it could of been a mini-stroke so he was put to sleep for an MRI. His mum recalls getting a phone call to go back to the ward and instantly knowing it was bad news. They then got the devastating news that their precious little man had relapsed and had 7 tumours, 4 of these were in his brain, one was on his heart lining, one at the top of his spine and the final one was where his kidney had been removed.
There was nothing further they could do. His parents were beyond heartbroken, to go through all that he went through in his little life, thinking he was out the other end and going to be ok, to then be told they only had a few weeks left with their son. It’s unthinkable, it makes me cry as I write this. Meeting his parents the strength they showed was just outstanding.
His mum didn’t want Cooper to see her or anyone upset, she wanted to make the most of every moment she had left. Telling me that there was plenty of time for tears and anger when he had gone she was so brave! I can remember driving home thinking there is no way i would of been holding it together with the anger you would feel at the world, the why him? and wishing you could take it away. No child should have to go through what Cooper went through but equally no parent should lose a child and in such a cruel way too. The bravery she showed both times I seen her for photos was just amazing.
His family got the best part of 3 amazing weeks with him making memories before he took a turn for the worst and went into a hospice with his parents. He continued to amaze them with his strength giving smiles and calling out his cousins name when they thought he could no longer speak. Some days were good some days bad but every moment was another moment his parents got to breathe in everything about their little boy, his smell, his smiles, his cuddles.
Even though he suffered for most of his short life, he was such a happy little boy who loved nothing more than cuddles with his mummy and watching Mr Tumble.
On the 28th of April 2017, surrounded by his family Cooper took his last breath and left behind a void that can never be filled. Rest in peace special little man.
I hope this hasn’t been too hard for everyone to read, but imagine how it would be to live it. Every parent’s worst nightmare! Awareness is key, if you think there is something wrong then don’t take no for an answer, demand further tests and full MRI’s. The earlier this evil thing called cancer can be caught the better the chances of beating it!
Thank you for taking the time to read
A massive thanks to Jodi From Pinky Promise Castings who came and made castings of Cooper’s hands and feet for his Mummy and Daddy which will be treasured for a lifetime.
I will attach some links below for people to take a look at.