Cancer: a word striking fear into hundreds each and every
day.  Cancer: the disease showing no prejudice – attacking men, women,
young old, rich, poor, black, and white.

First, I lost my Grandmother.  No words
express the grief I endured at her passing.  I watched as breast cancer
ravaged her, as she suffered
through unending months of treatment.  I wept as the strong, vibrant
woman I loved became a shell, a mere shadow of her former self.  She
told me a woman can do anything, but she could not beat cancer.  I felt
the cold smack of a harsh reality at only twelve.

One of her final gifts to me was my first camera.

Afraid of losing anyone, I never left home without that cheap 110mm camera.  *Click* Capturing my Kodak moments. *Click*

I dedicated myself to breast cancer research.  I never wanted another little girl to experience the same excruciating loss.

Next, I lost my Grandfather.  For years he battled
leukemia before finally succumbing to the disease.  My heart broke as
the
world lost one of the best men to ever walk upon it.  As I grew up, he
encouraged my artistic nature and taught me that photographs could be
more than just a snapshot capturing memories.  He read Shakespeare
to me as a baby, taught me about art as he painted, showed me how to
see through my camera lens, encouraged me to experience life in all its vivid colour and striking beauty.

I now have his prized camera, bought in Europe decades ago.  He took my wedding portraits with that camera.

Nine months after his death, we received my oldest son’s diagnosis. I
thought I could handle no more.  He was not even five – too young for
cancer!  Luckily, he
sailed through it. It was at that time I started to truly learn the
intricate details of photography and attempted to go outside of myself,
my family, my surroundings.  I began to truly share my photographs with
people, and seek out ways to photograph things.  My son gave me some of
his courage.

The first formal pictures I took came at the request of my sister-in-law. She needed a photographer for her second wedding and
knew I liked photography.  Happy to do so, I agreed to shoot her wedding.  We lost her husband to cancer a few years ago.

Last year my life came full circle.  My husband purchased me my
semi-professional camera and encouraged me to build upon work already
asked of me.  That spring I lost another grandfather to leukemia.  The
one whose wife died so many years ago.  I stood by his grave site, next
to my grandmother’s tombstone, and snapped a
photo.

I would like to think my grandmother is proud of me.  That somewhere
she sees my photographs and smiles, happy that her gift traveled with
me throughout my life.  That her pain gave birth to something good.

–Lady O

Originally posted on ladyozma.vox.com

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