There are a lot of things in this life that I can’t imagine. I have a hard time grasping what it is like to have or love a child, I am not a parent. I also can’t realistically touch the fear of having a disease like cancer, I have been mostly healthy my entire life. But because my job puts me right in the midst of people living through the extremes in life I often get a vicarious understanding of parts of the world that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience. Working on stories that explore the rich experience of human life is the most rewarding part of my job, though in certain cases it is hard to witness.
The miracle of parenthood and the terror of disease are examples I mentioned because of one such story I worked on recently for CNN about mother and daughter, Kezia and Saoirse Fitzgerald, who are both fighting unrelated forms of cancer, at the same time. It is a difficult story and one which has only gotten progressively more difficult for the family since I photographed them. For what they are going through, the Fitzgeralds seemed remarkably graceful, brave and hopeful. But it was impossible for them to hide the worry and lack of sleep on their faces.
Here is a recent excerpt from Kezia’s “New Mom…New Cancer” blog: Saoirse had a CT today. The results are not good. She has new lesions on her skull and her large tumor at the back of her head has grown. I am not sure where things go from here. We are still going to NY next week for further tests. We should know more Monday. Today is the first day I thought about the reality that she might die. The first day I let myself see the reality of her disease. Today I feel helpless, hopeless, and humbled. Today I have no answers – just questions, what ifs and uncertainty. Today I am weak, but she is strong – she makes me keep going. All I need is her smile.
You can keep up with the story and even donate to help the family from Kezia’s blog.