another year, another hiatus

Dear Friends,

My original blog post for 2019 was full of hope and confidence that my remission from Stage IV Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma would continue and I could take on more work.

Unfortunately my last scan shows that the cancer has returned. There are spots on my chest and one in my neck. Compared to last year I feel perfectly fine, so I am confident that it’s in the early stages. Still though, I must return to City of Hope for more chemotherapy treatments and perhaps a bone marrow transplant.

My oncologist always gave the cancer a 50/50 chance of returning within the first year. And although someone once said to “plan your life with hope, not fear”, the chance of recurrence was always present.

Instead of booking more shoots, I’m taking steps to shut down this business I worked so hard to create for the last 8 1/2 years. My role as a private school parent, a mother of a Bar and a Bat Mitzvah; a freelance photographer at The Outlook Newspapers; working at my Mom’s printing and graphics business; my background as a photographer for my high school and college newspapers and yearbooks, and the hours of classes and seminars in photography and computer software prepared me to capture all your events, your precious family portraits, and students of all ages in their classrooms and playgrounds.

I still love to work in Lightroom and Photoshop and look at new equipment. I started out in film, then embraced digital and love all the new technology. I crave exploring new places to shoot and I marvel at how the light illuminates objects-be it peoples’ faces or a small flower. I love creating books and finding new substrates (surfaces) to print my photographs. I never want to say, “oh they just don’t do it the way they used to”. In my world, photography and it’s “accoutrements” get better every day.

But now it’s time to set all that aside, buckle down harder and face another long term challenge. My odds are still good, but it’s hard to look ahead, now that I know how grueling the treatments are. And I don’t like being a burden to others. I am trying to break it down into small increments of time.

Yesterday, however, I fought through waves of anxiety and nausea. While attempting yoga I concentrated on who my personal heroes are: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jackie Robinson and Laura Hillenbrand. The two Lauras are writers and wrote about themselves or other people who inspired them while battling difficult circumstances. Their books are uplifting in ways that are intelligent and informative without sounding sappy or maudlin. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and never wavered on the baseball field in spite of the taunts and anger hurled by ignorant people. He excelled at the highest levels of athleticism. He didn’t make excuses nor wallow in self-pity.

Who are your personal heroes? Can you find inspiration even if plans go awry? Can we listen harder and understand human suffering a little better, even if we’re suffering ourselves?

Can you learn to appreciate the smallest moments in your life and call that a miracle?

Let’s focus on that last question and make it the real message for 2019.

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Dana Bouton14 Comments