I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of Beauty Revived's 50 Most Beautiful Children Campaign as one of 50 chosen photographers selected nationally. Through a nomination process I chose to feature Joy & her story.
I am forever changed and will never view childhood cancer in the same way. September is National Pediatric Cancer awareness Month. What a great way to bring attention to this important issue.
Joy's makeup was done by Michaela at Mane Attraction Salon in Rocklin, CA.
Here is Joy's story . . . .
January 2015 started out very normal for Joy. Christmas had just wrapped up and she was looking forward to a new year with exciting new things ahead, including her Freshman year of High School starting in the fall. Joy was a healthy 13 year old girl with normal teenage problems. Within the first week of January Joy & her family would be ripped from the life that they enjoyed and thrust into a whirlwind.
Joy awoke on Monday morning feeling generally unwell. She was more tired than normal. Throughout the week she would feel progressively worse until Friday when her breathing became labored and they went to the emergency room. A mass was seen in her lungs but was diagnosed by the doctors to be pneumonia. Sent home with antibiotics, she should have begun feeling better by Sunday.
By Sunday evening she was worse and throughout the night it became unbearable. She was immediately transferred to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento, CA. After an MRI, she was placed in the Intensive Care Unit and would have two chest tubes inserted before the day ended. By Wednesday she would begin her first round of Chemotherapy.
Joy had cancer.
Her first reaction to this news, “Well, it is what it is and we just have to roll with the punches.” She was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of Cancer called Burkitts Lymphoma.
She didn’t cry as she lost her hair or as her days in the hospital outnumbered her days at home. She had the unwavering support of her family & community. This is what kept her going.
Joy would endure 8 intense rounds of Chemotherapy in 6 months. She kept her smile through it all. Her smile is her trademark. It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.
When asked what was the hardest part she recalls:
“Losing my hair has probably been the worst side effect because being a teenage girl I’m really interested in my appearance. I get stares from people every time I leave the house and that’s really hard to try to understand. It’s been really difficult to maintain friendships throughout this. Cancer brings out either the worst or the best in people and I’ve experienced both. I’ve lost two best friends but I’ve also gained a couple. I would say I’ve handled everything very well, I’ve learned many lessons and for the first time I think I’ve truly gone through hardship. Cancer is really just a bump in the road for me. Look at me now, I’ve finished my last chemo round, my hair is growing back, and I’m mending my friendships back together.”
Joy’s doctors have declared her 99% in remission and she will continue to have scans for the next 5 years.
The one thing that that will always be there is her SMILE. Her smile, her laughter & her unwavering strength will continue to drive her to great heights.
Joy's story has been featured in the Special Issue of Beaty Revived Magazine. You can purchase your own copy here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/965783
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