This Is Us.

"What is life like as a mom with cancer? It's filled with hellos and goodbyes. It's filled with FaceTime and Skype calls. It's filled with fear that a mom without hair will scare my son. It's filled with fear that he won't remember who I am. One of the hardest things is not being able to be a mom, when being a mom is my greatest desire. I don't want to be hooked up to an IV everyday. I don't want to have blood drawn everyday. I have no choice. Do you know how much I wish I could get to my son and pick him up when he's crying? I'm either too weak in person or I'm watching him cry over an electronic device. I remember being able to 100% care for my son after beating cancer the first time. It was a privilege to care for him on my own. It was a privilege to get spit up on and do all of his laundry. It was a privilege to push him in his stroller and watch him gaze up at the trees. It was a privilege to rock and sing him to sleep... praying while he slept on my shoulder. It's not unusual to find me crying doing so. Do you know how much I miss that? Do you know how lucky you are to be a mom that can actually care for your child? If you're not a mom yet, I pray you get to experience the privilege of being a mom.

This photo captures what life is like for us. Although I'm deeply saddened inside everyday because I miss being a mom,
this is us. I put aside my emotions and see my son the way I have to because we need each other. No matter what my day is like, he makes me smile. I watch his dad play with him, feed him, bathe him, and read him bedtime stories. I watch this because I can't do this. I try to remind myself these are just months out of the rest of our lives, and he won't remember this. This picture taken by my dear friend, Emily Camp, of Emvision Photography says it all. I will always treasure this photo. Thank you, Emily, for giving our family a photo that speaks so much to us. This is our life."

Katherine shared these thoughts and feelings with me a couple of weeks ago from her hospital bed at Northside Hospital. She often writes in the middle of the night when she can't sleep. The last year and a half has been full of trial and tribulation for Katherine, her husband Nicholas, and their families and friends.

I attended Georgia Southern with Katherine and Nicholas. They were college sweethearts, who met in August of 2008, engaged in 2010, and married the following year. After being happily married for 4 years, Katherine found out she and Nicholas were expecting Memorial Day weekend of 2015! Fast forward a few months to October 1, and Katherine was diagnosed at 22 weeks pregnant with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia). She spent the next 5 months undergoing chemotherapy, and they returned home in late February with their son, Michael Edward Welch, who was born on New Year's Day. Katherine would go on to live a healthy life at home for 7 months before finding that the cancer had returned in October of 2016 - almost exactly 1 year after her original diagnosis.

AML is cancer of the blood/bone marrow - which essentially, is your immune system. She is extremely susceptible to germs and infection, and has to often be secluded from anything that could put her immune system at risk. Even the smallest cold could snowball into something catastrophic for Katherine.  Her son, Michael, almost 1 month older than Carter, is not allowed on her floor, so she spends most of her time talking to him over Skype or FaceTime.

The first bout Katherine had with cancer, I followed and silently prayed, but never really reached out. I was under the impression and had convinced myself that they were overwhelmed with enough to worry about, and didn't need one more message or comment to read. But now that their son Michael is on this side of eternity, her second diagnosis really struck a nerve with me. I wanted to do something. I wanted to fix their situation. I quickly learned I wasn't God - I couldn't fix their situation - but I could use the gift God gave me to bring joy, and I jumped at the chance.

Michael turned one on New Year's Day, and I got to spend the day after photographing him with his dad, Nicholas, and Katherine on FaceTime. I had a blast with them, and was so happy to be able to hug this little man I had seen on my newsfeed for the last year.

This week Katherine is undergoing a pretty brutal round of chemotherapy before her bone marrow transplant this Saturday, January 28th. I want to ask that you pray over Katherine's health. Pray over the doctors and nurses caring for Katherine - who have also become such great friends of hers. Pray for her mama heart being away from Michael, because I know that it hurts more than the cancer.

I have spent a good amount of time talking with Katherine and Nicholas over the last couple of months, and although they face daily challenges, they have not lost their sense of humor. I was nervous about entering into a fragile situation, but they have been open and light hearted and gladly shared their story with me. I thank God for reconnecting me with this family. They have been a blessing and an inspiration, and their remarkable faith has been so encouraging.

Thank you God for allowing me to make this my profession, and for showing Yourself to me through it.