Long before I became a professional photographer and writer, resigned from a successful career in pharmaceuticals months after receiving a diagnosis of thyroid cancer, and undergoing surgery to remove a tumor the size of an avocado pit from my neck. I was very lucky, the tumor was benign. However the impact of all the medical appointments, undergoing surgery, recovery, medical bills, and changes in lifestyle to prevent future tumor growth - changed my perspective.
One’s life truly does flash before their eyes in those moments the doctor uses the word, "cancer," as it doesn’t matter what kind of cancer one may or may not experience, the word itself strikes a low blow.
A decade later, the world of science and medicine found it’s way back into my life as a working photographer. In 2017, I completed a year long photography assignment with Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), collecting “day-in-the-life” photo essays of those impacted by breast cancer. Once again, cancer found a way to alter my perspective on how I was living my life personally and professionally. I knew I wanted to do something with my camera that would support those impacted by cancer.
Here I am now, having figured out the WHAT over the last seven months, WHY am I the best person to write this book? I'm not a doctor, though I was a legit research scientist in what I like to refer to as a "previous life!" I do in fact have educational degrees, professional training and career experience which does make me well suited for working with individuals impacted by cancer. In addition, working with those who support both patient care and scientific research. Furthermore, years of experience as a photographer, writer, project manager, and other nifty attributes that come in handy on a quest such as this.
The real reason WHY I'm the best person for this self-imposed job: I lost two of the most significant people in my life to cancer. My Grampa Langille passed of lung cancer while I was in High School. He was a gifted artist and runner. Two paths I followed. In fact, unbeknownst to me at the time of his death, I completed a personal record in track that day, only returning home to learn he had passed and would never know of my achievement. Grampa Yeomans (mother's side) passed of stomach cancer while I was in my late 20s and just starting out in my career as a scientist. There is no short way to summarize the role he played in my life. It was simply that significant, and even typing these words makes me a tearful mess.
I have always found compelling stories to inspire me through challenging life situations. While there are countless literary resources available for those impacted by cancer, not in such a way where it unites those around the experience of navigating the challenging decisions one has to make for themselves. Taking personal accounts from those impacted by cancer (any cancer) and paralleling them with stories of adventure - I believe will create an empowering book.
Whether you are navigating a treatment plan for cancer or a slippery rocky mountain road - each requires one to proceed slowly, taking in important information and making strategic decisions that will ensure a successful outcome.
If you would like to learn more about me, how my life has been impacted by cancer and why writing this book is so important - please reach out!
Thank you for taking the time to read my "WHY" and please consider a $40 donation to support writing the book.
Jennifer & Monty
Photo Credits: C.T. Bell for Blue Ridge Overland Gear
"I hope when people read the finished book, they feel empowered to face their own challenging life landscapes."
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