Capturing cancer recovery through a weekend of photos
A Disney Channel commercial and a family member battling cancer led to a recent weekendlong photo shoot at Lauxmont Farms.
Maddy Strine was 18 and in her first semester of college when she was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma. After surgery and three rounds of chemotherapy, she was declared cancer-free.
But the treatments were hard on her body. After beating the cancer, Strine booked a photo shoot with a local photographer, and it ended up being a big confidence-booster.
The photos symbolized the beauty and strength within Strine that withstood the harsh treatments her body had endured, said her aunt, Jennifer Sitler of Lower Windsor Township.
Sitler was watching the Disney Channel with her children when she saw an ad for Disney's "Summer of Service" grant. The Lower Windsor Township woman told her children, “We should apply for the grant to get money to help other families with kids with cancer get photos done like Maddy’s.”
Thanks to Sitler's idea, about 20 young cancer patients ages 4 to 19, who were in various stages of treatment or remission, were photographed last weekend. Twelve professional photographers and five makeup artists donated their time and talents to the children and their families on Saturday and Sunday.
“I could just see it light up on her face — she felt great out there,” said Tara Harman, of Baltimore, as she spoke of her 10-year-old daughter, Meghan. “I don’t think she was thinking about cancer at all.”
Meghan was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2015. She went through six rounds of chemotherapy. A month later, she relapsed and received a bone marrow transplant and has been fighting various complications from the transplant for the past year.
Tara Harman shared the opportunity with her longtime friend Christine Wetheral, of Catonsville, Maryland, whose daughter Sadie, 12, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 8. Following a year of chemotherapy, the energetic preteen has been in remission for three and a half years but has had bone replacement surgeries and knee replacements.
“Sadie loves all this kind of stuff,” said her mother. “She loved having her picture taken, and her brother could come, so it’s been wonderful.”
“It just makes them forget about all the stuff that they’re going through. It just makes them have fun. Out of something bad comes something good, because they meet new people and have a good experience,” Wetheral added.
“The purpose of this photo shoot is for these kids and families to be able to celebrate and document their recovery process — their child’s journey through this,” Sitler said.
“It felt really nice to get pictures of us because we can show people ‘we’re stronger than you think’,” Sadie Wetheral added.