Family Photo Sessions are hard and naturally demanding, but incredible opportunities for learning. You need to become accustomed to a unique family dynamic almost instantly. It is learning on your feet at its finest. Many times the goal for a session is to capture something that is beyond just a pretty image for a Christmas card, but is rather to preserve a moment in a family's journey that celebrates challenges that have been overcome, while preparing for those that are yet to come.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of doing another HopeKids session for a family who is in just that situation. The Blonigen family is full of life, love, and an extreme amount of little boy energy! They are a family with three rambunctious boys who are each facing challenges that sudden illness can bring to a family in a different way. This past January, 4 year old Grant, was suffering from severe abdominal pain during a trip to the Mall of America. Instead of his normal giggles after coming down the Log shoot, he was in tears and could not be pacified. A trip to Children's ER revealed that he had a tumor the size of a melon in his kidney. And so this family's journey with cancer began.
After months of surgery, chemo, pokes, a feeding tube and countless doctor visits, and therapy, Grant maintains a smile and strives to keep up with his big brothers. He runs, laughs, plays with sticks, throws leaves and tackles his brothers like there is nothing holding him back! His energy makes you feel like he can conquer the world. The long chain he is holding are called his Hope Beads. This enormous necklace which could be wrapped around him at least four times, is symbolic of his journey with cancer. Each colored bead represents something different: rounds of chemo is one color, pokes and tests are represented by another, therapy represents another.... but he has survived them all, he has overcome them all, and His Hope that life can be beautiful despite them all exudes from his smile. He holds them proudly and they represent his hope that no matter what happens, cancer will never hold him back from simply being an exuberant little boy.
The Blonigen family moves forward each day with hope. Mom and Dad are tired, yet, treasure each moment of joy no matter how small. Just days before this photo session, Grant had a scan that revealed a potential spot on his brain. As they celebrate the triumph of Grant's victories this past year, they look upon whatever challenges now lie ahead with hope. Hope that their love will prevail. Hope that nothing can steal the joy of this little boy. Hope that through prayer and focusing on what is most important in this life, they can overcome whatever comes their way.