—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

Shannon’s Journey, 21

Untitled photo
She did it, survived six rounds of chemo without having a nervous breakdown, without killing her kids, friends, neighbors or me. Actually, for the most part, she did pretty good, except there were a few times when her body betrayed her. Or rather the chemo did.

She’s been tired and weak, traumatized and hospitalized and depressed to beat the band, but not beaten.

She did it.

Still, she’s got a long way to go, but the worst is over.

Well, she’s still gotta get over the effects of the last round, but she won’t be back in the chemo chair.

Untitled photo

She laid back, closed her eyes and I took this picture. I guess she’s used to having me around, because it was like I wasn’t there.

Untitled photo

Eyes open and looking into space with a faraway look, almost like she’s at peace.

Untitled photo
So, I’m wondering what can I do to make a photograph that might be different than all the ones I’ve already taken, then the nurse drawing Shannon’s blood put on blue gloves.

Ah ha, I thought. Blue gloves and Shannon’s dark blue shirt, nice colors. So I took a couple shots. And Shannon still has that, “I’m not here look” in her eyes. I don’t know where she was, but I know where she wasn’t.

A better place maybe, though she was feeling pretty good. We joked around some, she was happy cuz her chemo was gonna be over.

And if I’d gone right home and posted these photos, this would have been a Shannon’s doing fine post, but I didn’t. I processed the photos, but I didn’t have any words. Then I got sick and still am a little, so I posted the photos without any text.

Then Vesta messaged Shannon, wanting to know how she was doing a couple days later and she answered back that she was in a dark place and that she would call or message me later, letting me know how she was getting on. So I waited on the text.

Untitled photo

Alright, she’s back, where she went, I don’t know, but now that she was seeing me, I took another shot and she’s smiling, almost like she doesn’t know about that dark place she’s gonna be in in just a few days.

Untitled photo
And here is a photograph of Shannon with Dr. Reganti, her oncologist and they’re both wearing smiles. Cancer is surely nothing to smile about, so it’s kinda important to grab all the ones you can, even if they’re gonna be short lived. I think so anyway.

And I have to admit, Shannon’s mostly been pretty up all the times I’ve been with her. Of course, I’ve only been seeing her at the start of these chemo sessions, you know, after the effects of the last one have mostly faded away and the effects of the next one won’t hit her for a day.

I guess it’s sorta like sailing on a nice day, right after a hurricane, but with another on the way. Yeah, sailing between two hurricanes, that’s what I think it’s like. I haven’t been seeing Shannon on those hurricane days.

But I have been talking to her throughout the process and listening to her when she talks to her doctors and I’ve got a pretty good sense that those hurricane days are pretty gosh darned bad.

Untitled photo
Yeah, she did it. And it in time her body can start working the way it’s supposed to and we can have Shannon back without those dark days and those dark places. Though it’s still possible she’ll feel fatigued for quite awhile, maybe up to a year, but hopefully not.

So if you know her and she seems tired, cut her some slack, because she’s busy surviving. And don’t tell her she needs rest or sleep, because the kind of fatigue she might be feeling, can’t by cured by that. Her body is recovering and time is the only cure.

She also might seem like she’s frustrated and if she seems that way with you, cut her some slack. And if you work with her and she’s sometimes slow or she goofs up, again cut her some slack, because she will get better.

Still, the chemo is over and that’s good. She’s still gotta deal with having her ovaries removed and breast reconstruction surgery and many more visits to her oncologist, but like I said at the beginning of this paragraph, the chemo is over.



So you can get a sense of what it’s been like for Shannon the last couple days, I’m included our messages from last night. I’m putting them here, because they end on a happy note and everybody who has cancer deserves a happy note every now and then.


Shannon: Hi, sorry, been struggling. You would think this would be a real happy time being done with chemo but it brings a lot of emotions up and feeling like crap it's hard to digest the emotions.

Also stressing because we have graduation festivities and company this week and I feel unprepared. On that note though, we will be having a get together next Saturday at our house for Shelby's graduation and I know our family would love to meet you guys since you have been like our family spokespeople!!  Ken and Peggy will be here too.

Me: Okay, we’ll see you then. Also, now I’ve got enough of what’s going on with you to finish the last chapter.

On another note, I’ve been sicker than a dying dog. All I want to do is roll up in a ball and shoot myself, so I can’t imagine how you’re feeling. We have company, my sister from North Carolina and my daughter just left, so they got to enjoy me blowing my nose and sneezing and moaning, cuz when guys get sick, they moan. You know, cuz they’re big babies.

I’m beginning to think I have the flu. Everyday I think I’m gonna be better tomorrow, but it keeps getting worse, but tomorrow, for real this time, I’m gonna start improving. Anyway, I’ll be fine by the weekend, even if it is the flu. Being sick sucks. I’d kinda forgotten that. And when you get older, it really sucks. I’m learning that.

I hope you feel better by the weekend. And don’t worry about the graduation stuff and the party stuff and any of that, cuz that’ll all take care of itself. Just worry about yourself.

Oh yeah, we’ve been watching Death in Paradise on Netflix. It’s pretty good, worth binge watching.

Shannon: Hello, loved your message!! Being sick does suck!! Hope you do get better tomorrow!! I'll check out Death in Paradise.

In Carson City tonight for college graduation. Feeling better. Kids are gonna shower, mommas gonna gamble for a lol bit while they shower.

Me: That's great, hope you win.

Shannon: Me too, or at least enjoy a little time by myself and have a beverage.

Shannon about twenty Minutes later: I just won $589!!!

Me: That's bloody great.

Shannon: Right!  Cashed out $600 ahead, playing dice game with kids.

And if winning six hundred bucks when you’re feeling down isn’t a happy note, I don’t know what is. But just because she won six hundred bucks, don’t think she doesn’t still need help. She does.

It’s amazing though, how many people have helped. Cancer, it seems to me, is big business in America and if you don’t got the do re mi, the caring doctors and the wonderful hospitals seem like they’d be willing to let you die. But before it gets to that point, they’ll gladly suck up all the money you have.

Hopefully, sometime in the future, we’ll get the kind of medicine they have in New Zealand, Australia, England, France and a whole lotta other countries, where health care is a right. Our founding fathers sure screwed up when they didn’t put that in the Bill of Rights.

But fortunately, there is kindness in strangers. Shannon has not received one cent of assistance from her government. However, just because the government of the United States of America doesn’t care about people like Shannon, doesn’t mean the American people don’t.

They do. She’s received help from people she doesn’t know, has never met and will never meet. Some of these people are survivors, some just care.

And I can’t say enough good words about the people at Pinocchio's Bar & Grill. They’ve been paying her rent while she’s been out of work. I knew they helped out breast cancer victims, but I learned a lot more when Tony Pinocchio called us the other day.

He was looking to have a headshot done, but when he told me his name, I asked him if he was related to the Pinocchio Restaurant people and he told me that was his younger brother’s restaurant and he told me stories of the women they’ve helped.

Let me tell you, they are wonderful people and you can help them help others, by eating at their restaurant the next time you dine out. You’ll get a dinner to die for and you can feel good about yourself at the same time.

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In