Survivor || Jug Handle State Reserve|| Fort Bragg, California
noun: survivor; plural noun: survivors
- person who copes well with difficulties in their life.
This is Mandy. She is one of the most inspirational people that I know. This photo was taken 5 years ago after she fought a battle with Lymphoma and won. Last week, I had the immense honor of photographing her again in celebration.
Today, She celebrates 5 years cancer free.
A word from Mandy:
"Let me start off like this...Cancer effing sucks! Plain and simple. I hate it and I most certainly hate what it does to people. To their lives. To their families.
But, a few things I do have to say, are, that I can appreciate life. Appreciate the little things life has to offer. For starters, my second chance. My second chance to continue to be the best damn Mom to Conner. To be the wife I'm meant to be. To have our miracle, Payton, (after beating this nasty beast). To be a good friend...and the AMAZING opportunity being a coach at my local high school guiding my girls to become not only successful in their HS basketball career but in all aspects of life.
So, with that...I'm 5 years. 5 FREAKIN YEARS CANCER FREE!
They say that with my "disease" hitting the 5 year mark is gold. Well, come on people...who doesn't want gold.
I'm taking it. I'm taking it that 5 years means my chances of recurrence slim down to some good sounding statistics! I can say I'm officially "cured"!!!!
I get to be with my family, my friends, my teams for LONGER!
I've made some stick with you friendships through this. Even after 5 years I'm finding myself connecting and becoming the best of friends with fellow survivors...people I wouldn't have imagined being close with before. These are friendships that no one else can understand (I'd never wish my closest loves to understand it). So, for them, these girls, I'm just a little more thankful that my journey this many years out, has brought them into my life.
5 years ago I was waiting for the call. The call that would change my life. The call that would tell me I'd be "ok" and able to move forward with a bit more ease OR (the dreaded) I'd need to continue a much harder fight. That one call brought me so many happy tears. I beat it. I won that ugly ugly beast that was trying to break me down. It didn't win. I DID!
I've lost long time friends through finding myself again, which is tough, but I've also gained more from it. Those whom love you will be there. No matter life's challenges. Something I've always believed in. And something I've learned the hurtful way.
But thank goodness for my family and friends, my tribe that I've got on my side...then and now. I love you all!
Today, 5 years later, I'm stronger.
I'm happier. I'm more frightened.
But, I am me. More so than ever before. I know what life is and how I want it to be for myself and my family.
Life isn't fair. And sometimes it's taken from people we love too soon.
So, love what you have and Love who you have! Let others know. Enjoy your life...because it will pass you by regardless of what's thrown your way.
To 5 years! To 5 more years living life! 5 is a number I'm forever continuing to strive for.💜"
We all have a plan for our lives, or at least we like to think we do. Some of us have a 3 month plan, others a 5 year plan. No where in Mandy's plan, did she ever imagine a year with cancer, but she didn't let it stop her. I had the great privilege of photographing her entire journey from start to 5 years later, and I can honestly tell you that I never heard once say anything negative.
Of course there were days of doubt, many questions, but she was determined to survive. At the time I remember thinking about what a courageous person she was and how beautiful it would be if she got to share her story of hope and courage with the others.
Well, she got to do that and more. That's a story for another day, but, Mandy, you are so amazing!
From our family to yours: Congratulations on today's HUGE milestone! I can't wait to travel down this road with you all for the next 5 years, and the 5 after that! Love ya girl!