Those of you who have followed our blogs for any time have, undoubtedly, stumbled across the article written in March of 2015 titled, “Bella the Champion“. If you missed it, I highly suggest you take a look inside this courageous girl’s battle with a rare form of cancer … you can’t help but be stirred by her strength and resilience.
Obviously, this article still lives warmly nuzzled against my heart, and its’ subjects remain the focus of many personal prayers. Since our meeting, we often talk about our time with Bella and her family … wondering how they are and what they are up to now. Because (I believe) God has an amazing sense of humor, we got answers to our questions in a rather unceremonious fashion.
While on a high school senior photography session, we found ourselves by the “Bowl and Pitcher” rock formation inside Riverside State Park (Spokane, Washington). The shoot was progressing well and we were in the zone to create some beautiful images for our vivacious client, Kylee.
As fate would have it, a playful child on the walkway above hurled rocks blindly over the bridge’s handrail (nearly battering us and our sweet client before we could really make a go of the shoot). We hollered at our unseen assailant, and the rain of brimstone subsided. Our objections heeded, we moved on and eventually worked our way back up to the mouth of the suspension bridge.
Almost as if on some serendipitous cue, Bella’s younger brother and lovely, raven-haired mother stood at the entrance to the bridge shyly waving and apologizing through their laughter.
The mother’s smile and kind eyes immediately recognizable; the subtle humor in her voice had not dulled. The love and connection we shared with their family was, at once, very present and very palpable.
Come to find out, these sweet, beaming faces were also the faces of our rock-throwing assailants. After laughing about the day’s mishap, we learned that Bella was celebrating the best news any cancer survivor could hope to receive … “REMISSION”. Her cancer, although tenacious in its battery of her body and mind, had been no match for the will of this pint-sized, wisp of a girl. Bella won this round!
Time, past hardships, personal and professional demands, and all other obstacles fell away in the few moments we all talked in the shadow of the setting sun. We exchanged a laugh, a tear, an embrace, and another temporary ‘goodbye’ with Bella and her mother, knowing full-well that this is not the end of our connection to this family.
Shortly after our meeting, we received this touching note:
“Hi Jeremiah! This is Belinda, Bella’s mommy. Love that we had a chance meeting at the Bowl and Pitcher. I wanted to bring you up to date … So, Bella gets to claim survivorship this Friday and we couldn’t be more thrilled. This mean she is done with CHEMO and no more active treatment. Her last dose is Friday and her port comes out on August 30th. She can barely contain her excitement. She is ready to put this in her past and get on with life as a healthy 10 yr old little girl. There will be challenges, but this girl’s got this. So motivated!! She is in dance, tap and horse riding classes. She learned how to ride a bike a couple of weeks ago … all things that were put on hold. Moving forward and not wasting any time to fulfill her hearts desires. Thanks for taking the time to talk and to take a pic of this precious girl. All of our love, Bella & Belinda”
We shared a brief, quiet moment of triumph with this family at the mouth of a heavily traveled foot bridge. It was spectacular … and it is what makes us love what we do.
You see, we partner with our clients in life (even if only for a moment) and are privileged to be the ones who capture images of their most important moments.
We are proud to share with you, our extended virtual family, Bella’s success. We know that this family’s battle is not over, and we don’t pretend that their path is easy from this point on. However, we do believe that you, (gentle reader,) also share our heart for their struggle and want to feel exhilarated and uplifted by their victories. The human spirit can overcome adversity … let this child’s determination rekindle your own passion for life.
We will keep them in our hearts until we meet again to hear the next chapter in their story. Will you join us? If you wish to send Bella (or her family) words of love, encouragement, and support … feel free to send them our way! We will pass them along. Your kind thoughts are a mere gesture, but the value of such a gesture goes beyond anything we can imagine. Let’s all celebrate this girl’s victory as if it were our own. Rejoice and be glad in the day you have been given.
Until next time … be well, and safe travels!
Shaunna & Jeremiah